Provocations by foreign civilian and military vessels against the fleet building Nord Stream 2
On 1 April 2021, Nord Stream 2 AG complained publicly in the media about provocations by foreign, including Polish, civilian and military vessels against the fleet that is currently finishing the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
It seems that some countries, led by Poland, still cannot digest the fact that the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is going ahead. Having failed to bend Russia through sanctions, it seems that some have decided to switch to more “physical” methods.
Indeed, the director of Nord Stream 2 AG, Andrey Minin, yesterday denounced the fact that the fleet responsible for finishing the construction of the pipeline is regularly provoked by foreign civilian and military vessels.
“We are talking about clearly planned and prepared provocations, using fishing vessels as well as military ships, submarines and aircraft, in order to hinder the implementation of the economic project. This is perhaps the first case of its kind, without precedent in history,” he said.
For example, on 22 February, a Polish fishing vessel, SWI-106, entered the fleet’s working area from the south while it was laying pipes for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline south of the Danish island of Bornholm.
The construction fleet then tried to establish radio contact, but to no avail. The Polish fishing vessel did not respond and continued to close in. A supply ship from the fleet then reversed course to act as a shield and protect the pipe-laying barge.
“Repeated attempts to establish radio contact with it failed. In this situation, the supply vessel Vladislav Strizhev was forced to reverse course, which resulted in the collision of the SWI-106 with the Vladislav Strijzhev. After the collision, the master of the fishing vessel made contact and admitted his guilt in the incident (audio recording available). Without the decisive actions of the supply vessel, the collision would have hit the pipe-laying barge Fortuna. A maritime protest has been lodged through the Russian consulate in Germany regarding this incident”, says the director of Nord Stream 2 AG.
The collision was recorded by a camera installed on the Vladislav Strizhev, a copy of which is shown here.
As you can see, the Polish fishing boat even hit the supply ship. If it had been the barge laying the pipes, the damage could have been catastrophic.
The reason why Nord Stream 2 AG did not raise a fuss immediately was that they thought it was an isolated incident. But recently the company realised that it was an organised provocation.
Indeed, from the second half of March, the number of low-level flights by foreign aircraft over the ships laying the pipes increased. Polish PZL-Mielec M-28B1 Rbi anti-submarine aircraft regularly carried out low-level, short-range overflights of the Nord Stream 2 fleet.
One of these overflights can be seen from 12 seconds in this video.
Then on 28 March, an unidentified submarine in a surface position appeared in the Fortuna’s protection zone, less than a mile away. At such a distance, the submarine could have hit the anchor lines of the pipe-laying barge and damaged the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
“Given that the Fortuna’s anchor lines are located more than a mile away, the submarine’s actions could have destroyed the entire anchor positioning system of the barge that lays the pipes and damaged the pipeline,” said an expert.
The day after the surprise submarine visit, a Polish warship (number 823) manoeuvred around the Fortuna, forcing the supply ship Karev to sail parallel to the warship to protect the barge.
Then, on 30 March, the night radar of the Rescuer Karev ship detected two objects in the vicinity, one of which was heading towards the Fortuna and was not responding to radio calls, as in the incident of 22 February. The supply ship was then sent to intercept the intruder, with searchlights on to attract attention.
As in the February incident, this was a fishing vessel, which saw that its manoeuvre was discovered, changed course and headed south without responding to radio calls from the Nord Stream 2 fleet. The second vessel, which appeared to be waiting for the first to the southwest of the Fortuna, also left without responding to radio calls.
“The actions of warships and aircraft, as well as civilian vessels of foreign states, violating the construction protection zone of the international project, not responding to requests and approaching the pipe-laying barge at an unsafe distance are irresponsible and unacceptable. They are creating a real threat of emergency situations with unpredictable consequences,” added Mr Minin.
It seems that it was this latest incident, along with the ballet of planes, warships, and even a submarine, that convinced Nord Stream 2 AG that the February incident was not an isolated accident, but part of a series of provocations, prompting the company to publicly denounce these facts.
Unsurprisingly, Poland denied that its navy was carrying out provocations against the Nord Stream 2 fleet, but admitted that its planes regularly carried out reconnaissance patrols in the Baltic Sea.
Except that two attacks from fishing boats (which do not respond to radio calls, except when one of them has collided with one of the Nord Stream 2 fleet’s ships) in one month is a lot. Especially since the barge that lays the pipes is huge. The Fortuna is almost 170 m long, it has a helipad, and at night it is lit up like a Christmas tree! So it’s hard not to see it.
Photo showing the Fortuna at nightfall (© AP Photo / dpa / Jens Buettner) :
Several Russian MPs, such as Vladimir Gutenev and Igor Ananskikh, have tried to reassure us that these were just accidents and that the military ships will not use their weapons against the Nord Stream 2 fleet or damage the pipeline, as this would be immediately apparent. Personally I consider their point of view to be angelism. Dangerous angelism, especially when you look at the attempts of civilian boats (fishing boats) to hit the barge!
It is clear that Poland is acting as a proxy for the US energy war against Russia. Since sanctions and diplomatic pressure are not enough to make Germany and Russia bend, they are now trying to use thuggish methods to scare the Nord Stream 2 AG company into stopping the construction (which should have been completed in 2019, but has been delayed due to US sanctions). The US has a very particular definition of “free competition” and “free market”.