Specialized portals tracking the location of sea vessels, previously only of interest to specialists and relatives of seafarers, were in the center of media attention in connection with the fate of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project after the imposition of US sanctions.
Journalists and those simply observing the progress of the project closely monitored the movements of ships capable of completing pipe-laying, trying to guess from them the general course of affairs with the completion of the gas pipeline, because there was little information from the project operators.
And the fact that the pipe-laying barge “Fortuna”, which began laying the remaining section of the gas pipeline in German waters, left the area of work, was not left without attention and comments. The answer turned out to be simple. “Work on the construction of 2.6 km of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the exclusive economic zone of Germany has been completed“, – said the company Nord Stream 2 AG, project operator. “Fortune” managed in about a week, although the German regulator gave permission to carry out the work until January 15th.
Now the next step is the Danish section. The Danish Maritime Administration has announced that work will resume from 15 January. The same “Fortuna” will be engaged in laying pipes, it will be assisted by the ships “Murman” and “Baltic Researcher” of the Russian Marine Rescue Service.
As noted in the Danish Maritime Administration, during the work, the ships will be prohibited from approaching several hundred meters. “Unauthorized swimming, diving, anchoring, fishing and seabed operations will be prohibited in these areas … The protection zone extends 200 m on each side of the pipeline”, – says the notification. Another 147 km of the pipeline is to be completed (this is the total length of the unfinished sections of two lines). It is assumed that depending on weather conditions, this will take three to six months.
The expectation that the withdrawal from the project under the influence of American sanctions by Western companies specializing in the laying of offshore pipelines would disrupt the construction was not justified. Russia had not only pipe-laying vessels in its possession, but also other elements necessary for the implementation of such projects.
Thus, the multifunctional rescue vessel “Murman” on December 23 stopped at the end of the constructed pipeline almost 15 miles south of Bornholm Island and moved along the unfinished section at a speed of 0.1 knots. The vessel started to explore the bottom using remotely controlled underwater vehicles (ROV)… Such work is carried out before and immediately after pipe-laying to monitor the condition of the route.
Now in the Baltic Sea there are about a dozen vessels flying the Russian flag involved in the construction of the gas pipeline – specialized suppliers, tugs, etc. Perhaps the laying speed will not be what the company provided Allseas, the world leader in the construction of main underwater gas pipelines, but import substitution worked here as well. Russian specialists coped with the modernization and retrofitting of ships, diplomats provided legal support for the work, obtaining all necessary permits and approvals.
Solving even purely technical paper issues was a political task – after all, it was the delays on the part of Denmark that led to the fact that work in its exclusive economic zone began so late and did not end by the time the US sanctions were imposed. This time, there were no delays on the part of the Danes; in particular, they quickly agreed to amend the previously issued work permit, allowing them to be carried out by vessels with anchor positioning (such is Fortuna), although in the initial version it was only about the dynamic positioning that the company’s vessels have Allseas and “Academician Chersky”.
This confirms the assumption that the previous position of Denmark was caused not by pressure from the Americans, but by a double game on the part of Germany, Denmark’s main economic partner. With their submission, the Danes delayed until the last moment with the issuance of permission, which the Germans needed in order to make Russia more accommodating in the matter of preserving Ukrainian transit, and in fact, the supply of Russian gas to Ukraine according to the so-called reverse schemes.
As a result, Berlin outsmarted itself by giving the Americans the opportunity to slow down the construction of the gas pipeline, which Germany needs no less than Russia. One way or another, the German side had to come up with a number of rather harsh statements, the last of which was the words of German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas that the German government was not going to concede to the American authorities in the Nord Stream 2 dispute, since it is about the sovereignty of Germany. “We don’t need to talk about European sovereignty if it means that in the future we will do whatever Washington wants.”Heiko Maas said.
Nor did Navalny’s new “revelations”, which were accidentally heard before the resumption of work on the gas pipeline route, have influenced Germany’s position. Apparently, the entire provocation with the “poisoning”, in addition to the “strategic” task of demonizing Moscow, was launched to disrupt the completion of Nord Stream 2.
This project became a kind of matter of principle both for the Trump administration, which was striving to showcase “break off” the European allies, and for themselves (primarily for Germany), a marker showing whether they are sovereign states or Washington’s vassals.
New US President Joe Biden sets the task of restoring the unity of the “democratic world”, disrupted by Trump’s actions, but the old way (as before Trump) will no longer be. The war lost even on points changes the balance of forces, and the Americans lost the war they started against Nord Stream 2. The German side moved on to a more solid defense of its interests, and the Germans will not forget this experience. Presumably, Washington’s official position with respect to the gas pipeline will not change, but most likely there will be no new serious attempts to disrupt the completion of Nord Stream 2. This is a big win for Germany.
And Russia’s main gain is that, due to Western sanctions, it has not been able to face the collapse of a strategically important project. The country had sufficient technological, financial and political resources to bring the project to a successful conclusion.
Cover photo: Gazprom
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