From Strategic Stability
February 10, 2023
1. What measures Moscow will adopt against the US Nord Stream attack?
It is widely known that on September 27, 2022, Nord Stream AG reported unprecedented damage that occurred the day before on three strings of the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 offshore gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea. On September 26, Swedish seismologists registered two explosions on the pipeline routes.
Russia may take legal or political measures in connection with recent findings on the US Nord Stream pipeline blasts, published by US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, a senior Russian diplomat said. “This issue is constantly in our focus, and we will not leave this story unanswered. Political measures may be taken, as well as legal ones,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told reporters on February 9.
He added that Russia would continue to press for access to the investigation.
“The pipes were Russian, and we are obviously the affected party, so we will press for access to the investigation. We will use all instruments at our disposal to uncover the truth,” the diplomat said.
The same day Grushko criticized Europe’s response to the blasts and its investigation into the matter. “The political stance, taken by Europe with regard to these affairs, exposes political impotence and reluctance to defend Europe’s deeply rooted, core interests, the interests that Europe has as Europe, not as a US satellite,” he said.
“The West bashfully sweeps under the rug the fact that their strategic document amount an attack on critical infrastructure to an armed assault, including in the sense stipulated by [NATO’s Washington Treaty] Article 5,” he added.
“And when an attack on critical infrastructure, on a pillar of Europe’s longstanding economic prosperity has occurred, Europe just swallowed it in silence: no one said anything, they refused to investigate it or let us participate in investigation,” Grushko stressed.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said earlier that “there will be consequences, despite Washington’s numerous refutations” to have a direct involvement into the act of aggression in the Baltic Sea.
According to the article published on February 8, US explosives were planted under the Russian Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines by US Navy divers under the guise of the regular BALTOPS 22 NATO Naval exercise that took place last June in the Baltic Sea. The story cited an unidentified source with direct knowledge of the operational planning as saying that US President Joe Biden personally authorized the operation. The President openly declared it on TV.
[Seymour Hersh’s investigation entitled “How America Took Out The Nord Stream Pipeline” can be found at: https://seymourhersh.substack.com/p/how-america-took-out-the-nord-stream ]
2. Tough measures against Norway will be launched as well
Russia is not surprised by the findings of US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh that Norway was involved in the explosions at the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on February10.
“We have analyzed the American journalist’s publication about the explosions at Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2, <…> we are not surprised by the conclusions of the American journalist of Oslo’s involvement in these acts of sabotage,” a diplomat said, adding that Norway obeys the United States and the European Union in its foreign policy.
Russia had repeatedly offered its assistance to Denmark and Sweden in investigating the terror attacks, including in Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin’s messages. “But the requests from the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office to the corresponding agencies in these countries have been turned down. It is absolutely obvious that their authorities are not interested in identifying those responsible and, it looks like, they are interested in the opposite, i.e. hiding information, facts and evidence,” she said.
“We insist that only a comprehensive and open investigation involving relevant Russian agencies and the Gazprom company will be able to yield reliable and objective data on the causes, perpetrators and contractors of these acts of sabotage,” she stressed.
The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office launched a criminal case based on charges of international terrorism.
THIS CHAPTER WILL BE NOT CLOSED UNTIL FINAL RESULTS OF THE INVESTIGATION ARE ANNOUNCED. IF THE USA, NORWAY, DENMARK AND SWEDEN REFUSE TO COOPERATE IN FINDINGS, RUSSIA WILL CONDUCT ITS OWN INVESTIGATION
3. Some measures proposed against the USA and other countries
Russian academic community has advocated inter alia some additional military and political measures: to withdraw from the 2010 New START and not to resume the US inspections in Russia under its provisions; not to resume the New START BCC meetings; to increase the number of SOA strategic warheads; to enhance combat readiness of its nuclear forces; to cancel the 1972 US-Russian Incidents at Sea Prevention Agreement; to change current Russia’s NFU (or NFS) Nuclear Strategy into a new First Strike Nuclear Strategy; to increase a number of Russian SSBNs in the World Oceans close to the CONUS.
They also put forward some diplomatic measures: to recall Russian Ambassadors and his Deputies in the USA, Norway, Denmark and Sweden to Moscow for consultations, thus keeping the Embassy at the level of the third number, like Senior Counsellor for Political Affairs, with the subsequent demand to reduce the level of their Embassies in Russia respectively (in Denmark and Sweden, because they, highly likely, were aware of the US plot in their maritime economic zones); or to make more radical step: to sever diplomatic relations with all these four countries completely.
In economic sphere: to disrupt all economic and financial contracts, and transport/ transit channels with them; not to sell gas and crude oil to them.
Russian experts have justified such measures by two direct armed aggressions launched by the USA and NATO against Russia, namely: (1) exploding international energy supply route in the Baltic Sea; and (2) combined direct Ukrainian-NATO aggression that is dangerously escalating.
4. Seymour Hersh sees possibility of visiting Russian Parliament
US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, who earlier published a report about US direct role in blasts that damaged the Nord Stream pipelines last year, does not rule out the possibility of visiting Russia and addressing the lower Chamber of the Russian Parliament named State Duma. “That’s not off the table but it’s not going to happen in the short run,” Hersh told TASS, commenting on Russian media reports about his possible invitation to visit the Russian State Duma.
He added that relations between the two countries remain strained and, therefore, not conductive to foreign trips in such a “delicate time.” However, the journalist said he had turned down several invitations to speak before the US Congress in the past few years. In his words, he received several calls from the US Congress after publishing his article about the Nord Stream attack. “I’ve already had senators call me up and I say to them, I can’t help you it’s your problem, not mine,” Hersh said.
5. The PRC: The USA must be held accountable for explosion of the Nord Stream pipelines
Washington should be held accountable if the Nord Stream gas pipeline blasts were the work of the United States, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said on February 9. “If an investigation confirms [these] facts, it’s impossible to just tolerate it. Such actions should bring about liability,” she said at a briefing, commenting on the findings of US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh.
The Chinese diplomat specified that if Washington was proven guilty, the US “will have to provide responsible clarifications to the world.” According to Mao Ning, the Nord Stream explosions “had an extremely negative impact on the global environment and the global energy market.”