Briefers Urge Security Council to Independently Investigate 2022 Nord Stream Pipeline Incident as Members Assess Speed of National Inquiries
Bringing the saboteurs of the two Nord Stream undersea gas pipelines to justice will reduce international friction and help prevent future attacks on critical international infrastructure, a journalist told the Security Council today, as delegates discussed both the progress of ongoing national investigations into the incident and the role the Council should play in that regard.
Bryce Greene, independent journalist, briefed the Council that, for Western officials and media, “the culprit was clear: Russia”. By immediately blaming the Russian Federation, another apparent culprit — the United States — was almost completely ignored as a potential suspect. He also noted that Ukraine has ample reason to want the pipeline gone, and that Washington, D.C., has been training Ukrainians in undersea operations.
Noting that the White House’s denials carry no real weight considering the United States’ interest in the explosions, he asserted that “it is likely that the United States knows far more about what happened, and who is responsible, than it is revealing”. In this context, he urged the Council and Western media to shed light on the situation and ensure accountability.
Also briefing today was Jeffrey A. Brodsky, independent journalist, who also called on the Council to conduct an impartial investigation into the Nord Stream sabotage. Denmark, Germany and Sweden — the three countries currently investigating the incident — have shown no willingness to share their results with the public, he said. “The world is watching — and expecting — the UN Security Council to uncover the truth about the sabotage,” he stressed.
As Council members took the floor, they condemned the act of sabotage against the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, with many also voicing support for the ongoing national investigations into the incident being conducted by Denmark, Germany and Sweden. Others, however, took issue with the lack of progress to date in that regard.
The Russian Federation’s representative said that, 10 months since the incident, the Council had no idea regarding the progress of such national investigations until it received a joint letter on 10 July. According to Moscow’s interpretation of that letter, its authorities can independently examine the crime scene at any time within the framework of the criminal case initiated by that country. The Russian Federation will continue to raise this issue in the Council until the perpetrators are identified and held accountable, he added.
On that, the representative of France — noting that the Russian Federation has called for a discussion on this matter three times in less than a month — said that no new developments justify this. Recalling that the Council discussed this item during France’s presidency in September 2022, he reiterated that these events must be taken seriously. He also underlined the independence of German, Swedish and Danish authorities, stressing that these national investigations cannot be subject to political interference.
Similarly, Mozambique’s delegate recalled that, during his country’s Council presidency in March, an attempt was made to establish an independent investigation under the auspices of the Secretary-General. His country, however, was told it was premature to call for an international investigation to avoid interference with national investigations under way. Underlining that such investigations cannot be endless, he expressed support for the speedy conclusion of an objective, impartial and professional inquiry.
Albania’s representative, meanwhile, noted that investigations are complex and need time, and that Council members must be patient. He emphasized that bringing this discussion into the Council incessantly will divert the organ’s attention from other issues. Echoing that stance, the United States’ delegate urged the 15-member organ to reject repeated meetings that have no purpose other than to waste time. Moscow’s attempts to use the Council as a platform for its disinformation are “as cynical as they are transparent”, he stressed.
Japan’s representative, noting that the Council must address any matter that concerns international peace and security, nevertheless stressed: “The Security Council should, however, wait for the national authorities to establish the facts.” She also said that a separate investigation would risk creating confusion, a point also made by Malta’s delegate, who further asserted: “Investigations of this magnitude take time, and persistent claims that nine months should have been enough time to investigate and establish the truth are unfounded.”
The meeting began at 3:05 p.m. and ended at 4:15 p.m.
BRYCE GREENE, independent journalist, said that his media-criticism work and study of the Ukraine war led him to investigate the Nord Stream attack. Recalling a series of leaks along the Nord Stream route in 2022, he pointed out that seismology reports indicated sabotage, not an accident. He said that, for Western officials, experts and press, “the culprit was clear: Russia”, pointing to an assumption that “Russia attacked themselves to intimidate the West”. He then cited a leading Swedish investigator, who said: “Do I think it was Russia that blew up Nord Stream? I never thought so. It is not logical.” He also noted that, by immediately blaming the Russian Federation, another apparent culprit — the United States — was almost completely ignored as a potential suspect.
He went on to say that a strategy of the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has been to prevent integration between Western Europe and the Russian Federation. On that, he recalled the words of NATO’s first Secretary General that the alliance’s role was to “keep the Russians out, Americans in, and the Germans down”. Noting that three successive United States Administrations have “done their best to stop the pipeline”, he pointed out that a 2019 RAND Corporation study was about “ways to overextend and unbalance Russia”. The study also included a recommendation on how to “reduce [Russian] natural-gas exports and hinder pipeline expansions”. In addition, at the start of the Joseph R. Biden Administration, the United States Secretary of State told Congress he was “determined to do whatever he could to prevent Nord Stream 2 from being completed”.
Recalling that the White House has called Seymour Hersh’s article on the pipeline attacks “completely and utterly false”, he said that such denials carry no real information considering the United States’ interest in the explosions. Moreover, Ukraine has ample reason to want the pipeline gone, and he noted that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy advocated for bolder moves against the Russian Federation, including pipeline attacks. More so, Washington, D.C., has been training Ukrainians in undersea operations, similar to the one that must have been carried out against Nord Stream 2, he said. He emphasized: “It is likely that the United States knows far more about what happened, and who is responsible, than it is revealing.”
Citing a New York Times article that stated “it may be in no one’s interest to reveal more”, he stressed: “No one’s interest? Is this serious? They have abdicated their role.” While the West “has let these revelations sink into the background”, he said that the attack originated in the West, that the Baltic Operations exercises were the staging ground and that the United States knows more than it is sharing. In this regard, he urged both the Security Council and the Western media to shed light on the situation and ensure accountability.
JEFFREY A. BRODSKY, independent journalist, said that he is the only journalist to travel to all four blast sites in the Baltic Sea, noting that he has been investigating the sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines since it occurred on 26 September 2022. He said he does not represent any Government or organization and speaks on his own behalf. Under the Charter of the United Nations, two of the Council’s functions are “to maintain international peace and security in accordance with the principles and purposes of the United Nations” and “to investigate any dispute or situation which might lead to international friction”, he pointed out.
He went on to say that bringing the perpetrator of the Nord Stream sabotage to international justice and compensating the harmed parties will advance international peace and security, reduce international friction and help prevent future attacks on critical international infrastructure. “I therefore appeal to the Security Council to execute its functions and power under the UN Charter by conducting an impartial investigation into the Nord Stream sabotage,” he urged, adding that he participated in an independent expedition involving all four blast sites in late May.
On that, he noted that neither the data obtained from the expedition, nor his investigative work, have been able to conclusively attribute the sabotage to a specific State. Perhaps, only the Council would be able to make such an attribution, he said, adding: “I am confident many people around the world would welcome this body’s assistance.” Germany, Denmark and Sweden — the three countries that have investigated the sabotage — have shown no willingness to share their results with the public. “The Nord Stream sabotage stands as one of the most significant acts of ecoterrorism and industrial sabotage in history,” he underscored, and it also “represents one of the most pressing geopolitical mysteries of our time”.
Noting that many people worldwide have lost faith in national and international institutions, he said that the condemnation of this act of global terrorism — and the swift establishment of a Council-led investigation — could help restore some of that lost faith. “The world is watching — and expecting — the UN Security Council to uncover the truth about the sabotage and to share this truth publicly,” he added.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) thanked the briefers for presenting objective facts about the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines. They confirmed his country’s view that it was impossible to carry out this crime without the direct involvement of a State or a “cover” State entity. All Council members condemned the crime, stressing the need to establish the truth. Western members, however, stated that there was no added value in such international efforts until investigations by Denmark, Germany and Sweden were complete. It has now been almost 10 months since the incident, and 4 months since the vote on a related draft resolution. Further, the Council had no idea about the progress of those investigations until it received a joint letter from the three countries on 10 July. That letter, however, cannot replace a full briefing in which Council members can ask questions, he underscored.
He went on to urge the authorities of Denmark, Germany and Sweden to take concrete steps to conduct an objective, transparent investigation. Moscow also reserves the right to conduct its own investigation, he said, noting that the joint letter indicates that the crime scene is accessible. He noted his interpretation that this means that Russian Federation authorities can independently examine the crime scene at any time within the framework of the criminal case initiated by that country. His delegation will raise the issue of the Nord Stream sabotage in the Council until the perpetrators are identified and held accountable, he stressed, adding that the organ must make clear that crimes against cross-border pipeline infrastructure will not go unpunished.
HERNÁN PÉREZ LOOSE (Ecuador) said the explosions that occurred in the submarine pipelines Nord Stream 1 and 2 in the Baltic Sea were clearly the result of acts of sabotage. Nothing justifies acts against essential civilian infrastructure, he stressed, adding that such acts produce an incalculable source of pollution, endangering local marine life, with potentially devastating climate consequences. His country has condemned these acts on several occasions, he said, calling once again on all Member States to exercise the utmost restraint. It will continue to be guided by the 21 February briefing by Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo, who called on States to avoid speculation and any baseless accusations that could escalate tensions in the region and stymie the search for the truth, he added. He recalled his delegation’s expression of support in March for the investigations under way in Denmark, Sweden and Germany, and encouraged those investigations to continue.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) said that the Russian Federation has called for a discussion on this matter three times in less than a month, while noting that no new developments have occurred to justify this. Pointing to contradictions between Moscow’s concern, following the attack on the critical European infrastructure, and its daily strikes against Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, he said that the Russian Federation is seeking to divert the Council’s attention. Recalling that the 15-member organ discussed the matter on 30 September 2022 under France’s presidency, he stressed: “Our assessment remains unchanged: these events are gravely serious and must be taken seriously.” Turning to the investigations launched by Denmark, Germany and Sweden, he said: “We have no reason to doubt the seriousness of these inquiries.” German, Swedish and Danish authorities are independent, he stressed, adding that these national investigations cannot be subject to political interference.
BISMARK ANYANAH (Ghana) said his delegation continues to be deeply concerned about the sabotage against the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines last September. He maintained his support for the ongoing national investigations by the countries of interest, particularly Denmark and Sweden, in whose exclusive economic zones the incident occurred, as well as Germany. Noting the international community’s sustained interest, he encouraged frequent updates and readily available information on the investigations’ status to bring clarity and help determine the necessity, or otherwise, of an international investigative process. Pending the national investigations’ conclusions, he urged cooperation among all relevant stakeholders, including the pipeline’s operators, with the aim of reaching a single narrative on the circumstances resulting in the unfortunate incident. He reiterated appeals to all concerned parties to exercise restraint against unilateral actions that may be detrimental to peace.
SÉRGIO FRANÇA DANESE (Brazil) underlined that those responsible for last September’s Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipeline explosions must be identified and held accountable for their actions. To this end, Brazil supported a proposal in March for the launching of an international investigation, coordinated by the United Nations, in support of efforts by national authorities. Noting investigations into the incident by Denmark, Germany and Sweden, he voiced trust in their objectivity and awaited the disclosure of information that may shed light on the sabotage, which resulted in economic and environmental damage. While acknowledging the need for secrecy and proper conduct of procedures, he said that the lack of responses, almost 10 months after the explosions, has produced anxieties and deepened tensions, even among Council members. Therefore, he encouraged cooperation between directly affected States and efforts to prevent misinformation, to ensure that the results of the investigations are known soon.
PEDRO COMISSÁRIO AFONSO (Mozambique) recalled that, during his country’s Council presidency in March, an attempt was made to establish an independent investigation into the Nord Stream incident under the auspices of the Secretary-General. “We were told that it was premature to call for an international investigation so as to not interfere with the national investigations under way,” he said. Although his delegation concurred with this, such investigations cannot be endless, and as the primary organ responsible for international peace and security, the Security Council should be kept abreast of their findings. As a country that has invested heavily in a regulated, orderly energy infrastructure for its development, he said that Mozambique supports the speedy conclusion of an objective, impartial and professional investigation into the incident.
RICCARDA CHRISTIANA CHANDA (Switzerland) voiced concern about the alleged acts of sabotage against the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines, which led to worrying gas leaks last September. She condemned once again all acts of sabotage against critical infrastructure, including energy infrastructure, and their consequences for the people’s energy supply, the economy and the environment. Welcoming the information provided in the 10 July joint letter from Denmark, Germany and Sweden, she said her delegation looks forward to the conclusions of their respective ongoing national investigations to shed light on the facts.
ANNETTE ANDRÉE ONANGA (Gabon), recalling that, almost 10 months ago, underwater explosions damaged the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, said the consequent methane leaks have had an undeniable impact on flora, fauna and marine environment. Taking note of Germany, Denmark and Sweden’s ongoing investigations, she recalled the Council’s meeting to discuss this matter on 23 June. She reiterated her country’s deep concern over the civilian infrastructure attacks, while calling on the parties concerned to respect international legal instruments that protect civilians and civilian infrastructure against any armed attack. In this vein, she reaffirmed Gabon’s appeal for dialogue and coordination with the aim of finding a political and a diplomatic solution to this crisis.
DARREN CAMILLERI (Malta), reiterating condemnation of the sabotage targeting the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, said that such actions pose a serious threat to energy security and regional stability. His delegation supports ongoing investigations by Denmark, Germany and Sweden, which will no doubt disclose and establish the truth behind this deliberate act. “It is crucial to ensure the completion of these national processes without any external interference,” he stressed, adding: “We have full confidence in their impartiality and credibility”. Investigations of this magnitude take time, and persistent claims that nine months should have been enough time to investigate and establish the truth are unfounded. “Such insinuations do not move us any closer to the truth, and only serve to sow unfounded suspicions and distrust among States,” he observed. Any additional investigations at this juncture seriously risk impeding progress and could be counterproductive, he stated.
MOHAMED ISSA ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates) reiterated his country’s condemnation of the September 2022 sabotage targeting the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines. Such attacks are dangerously disruptive to global energy markets — which depend on international collaboration — and cause significant ecological damage. Voicing support for ongoing national investigations by competent authorities in all relevant countries, he encouraged cooperation between investigating countries and entities. Against that backdrop, he welcomed updates on the status of investigations offered to the Council by Denmark, Germany and Sweden through their joint letters of 21 February and 10 July. With investigations still ongoing, it is vital to avoid prejudicing their outcomes, he said, adding: “We await their swift conclusion, the transparent communication of their findings and timely updates as appropriate.”
FERIT HOXHA (Albania) welcomed the joint letter from Denmark, Germany and Sweden, which are conducting their investigations. He expressed full confidence in the objectivity and comprehensiveness of the investigations, saying that those countries and their institutions have unquestionable records in the rule of law. Noting that today’s meeting was the third in less than a month called by the Russian Federation, he said the investigations are complex and need time, as the joint letter suggested. “We must be patient,” he said, emphasizing that bringing this discussion incessantly into the Council will divert attention from other issues. Recalling the genocide in Srebrenica 28 years ago, he said it happened during the last war in Europe, and to avoid this tragedy from repeating, the war in Ukraine needs daily attention.
GENG SHUANG (China) emphasized the need to ensure that the conclusions of an independent and professional investigation are objective, impartial and can stand the test of history. The countries concerned have been conducting country-specific investigations into the Nord Stream pipeline explosion for quite some time, yet a clear statement on the matter has yet to come, he pointed out, adding that the best way to respond to the international community is to announce the investigation’s results as soon as possible, even if it is only a milestone. He called on concerned parties not to politicize the investigation or use it as an opportunity for political manipulation. As the Russian Federation is one of the main parties involved in the explosion, any objective and impartial investigation requires communication and cooperation with that country, he stressed, voicing hope that countries concerned will acknowledge this and take positive steps accordingly.
JEFFREY DELAURENTIS (United States) said that the Russian Federation’s attempts to use the Council as a platform for its disinformation are “as cynical as they are transparent”. Moscow’s “so-called concerns” about the investigations’ transparency and impartiality “ring as hollow as its assertions that it had no relation with the Wagner Group and had no plans to invade Ukraine”, he observed. The countries directly involved should be permitted to conclude their investigations without undue pressure, and the Russian Federation cannot — and should not — be allowed to pre-judge or prejudice such investigations’ results prior to their conclusion. “The hypocrisy is on full display,” he said, noting that Moscow claims to respect sovereignty and territorial integrity while invading its sovereign neighbour. Refuting allegations that the United States bears any culpability for the attacks, he urged the Council to reject repeated meetings that have no purpose other than to waste time and spread disinformation.
SHINO MITSUKO (Japan) said that energy resources, including natural gas, are fundamental to people’s lives. In this context, vandalism of critical infrastructure and facilities is unacceptable, she stressed, underlining the impact such acts have on people. Turning to the investigations being carried out by Germany, Denmark and Sweden, she expressed confidence that they will be conducted in a fair manner. A separate or additional investigation would risk creating confusion, she said, while expressing hope that the investigations will be completed “as soon as possible”. Noting that the Council must address any matter that concerns international peace and security, she nevertheless emphasized: “The Security Council should, however, wait for the national authorities to establish the facts.”
JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom), Council President for July, spoke in his national capacity to state that the international community wants clear answers regarding the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines. The best way to obtain those answers is to support and respect impartial investigations by Denmark, Sweden and Germany. “We do not believe it is good use of our time for the Security Council to start to prejudge the outcome of these investigations, dictate how they are conducted or otherwise undermine them,” he said. He also noted the Russian Federation’s inconsistent attitude regarding civilian infrastructure — claiming outrage here, but then pursuing a systematic campaign of targeting civilian infrastructure in its war of aggression against Ukraine. “Such hypocrisy should not surprise us, but it makes it hard to take anything the Russians say on this at face value,” he added.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation), taking the floor a second time, asked for clarification from the United States on whether the term “affected States” includes the Russian Federation. Expressing hope that it does, he called for the participation of his country’s experts in investigations. Today’s statements by Western Council members allowed his delegation to clearly trace the chain of causality that guided them in committing these crimes. Their statements are excellent material for future Russian Federation and international investigations, he said.