Germany and Russia win
Specialised websites that track the location of sea vessels, previously interested only in specialists and relatives of sailors, have become the focus of media attention in connection with the fate of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline construction project after the introduction of US sanctions.
Journalists and those just watching the progress of the project closely monitored the movement of ships capable of completing the laying of pipes, trying to guess the general course of affairs with the completion of the gas pipeline, because there was little information from the project’s operators.
So 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, did not remain without attention and comments. The answer was 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 Nord Stream 2 AG, the project operator. “Fortuna” managed it in about a week, although the German regulator gave permission to carry out the work until January 15th.
Now the Danish section is next in line. The Danish Maritime Authority has announced that work will resume on January 15th. Pipe laying will be carried out by the same “Fortuna”, it will be assisted by the vessels “Murman” and “Baltic Explorer” of the Russian Maritime Rescue Service.
As was noted by the Danish Maritime Administration, during the work the ships will be prohibited to approach a few hundred meters. “Unauthorised swimming, diving, anchoring, fishing and seabed operations will be prohibited in these areas… The protection zone extends 200m on each side of the pipeline,” the notice said. Another 147km of the gas pipeline is to be completed (this is the total length of the unfinished sections of the two threads). It is expected that depending on weather conditions, this will take three to six months.
The calculation that the withdrawal from the project under the influence of US sanctions of western companies specialising in laying offshore pipelines will disrupt the construction didn’t work out. Russia has not only pipe-laying vessels, but also other elements necessary for the implementation of such projects.
So, the multifunctional rescue vessel “Murman” on December 23rd stopped at the end of the pipeline built almost 15 miles south of Bornholm Island and moved along the unfinished section at a speed of 0.1 knots. The vessel began to explore the bottom with the help of remote-controlled underwater vehicles. Such work is carried out before laying pipes and immediately after it to monitor the condition of the route.
Now in the Baltic Sea there are about a dozen vessels under the Russian flag involved in the construction of the gas pipeline-specialised suppliers, tugs, etc. Perhaps the speed of laying will not be the same as provided by Allseas, the world leader in the construction of main underwater gas pipelines, but import substitution worked here. Russian specialists coped with the modernisation 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 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 was no delay on the part of the Danes; In particular, they quickly agreed to make changes to the previously issued work permit, allowing them to be carried out by vessels with anchor positioning (such as “Fortuna”), although in the original version it was only about dynamic positioning, which is available to the vessels of Allseas and Akademik 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 Denmark’s main economic partner, Germany. From their submission, the Danes delayed until the last moment with the issuance of a permit, which the Germans needed in order to make Russia more compliant in the issue of preserving Ukrainian transit, and in fact – the supply of Russian gas to Ukraine under the so-called reverse schemes.
As a result, Berlin outsmarted itself, giving the Americans the opportunity to slow down the construction of the gas pipeline, which Germany needs no less than Russia. Anyway, the German side had to make a number of rather harsh statements, the last of which was the words of German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas – that the German government is not going to give in to the American authorities in the dispute over the Nord Stream-2, since it is about German sovereignty. “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.
The new “revelations” of Navalny, which were heard not by coincidence before the resumption of work on the gas pipeline route, did not affect the position of Germany either. Apparently, the entire provocation with the “poisoning”, in addition to the “strategic” task of demonising Moscow, was launched to disrupt the completion of Nord Stream-2.
This project became a kind of matter of principle for the Trump administration, which sought to “break off” European allies, and for them (especially for Germany), a marker showing whether they are sovereign states or vassals of Washington.
The new US President Joe Biden sets the task of restoring the unity of the “democratic world”, broken by the actions of Trump, but it will not return to the old way (as before Trump). A war lost even on points changes the balance of power, and the Americans lost the war they started against Nord Stream 2. The German side has moved to a more solid defence of its interests, and the Germans will not forget this experience. Presumably, the official position of Washington in relation to the gas pipeline will not change, but, most likely, there will be no new serious attempts to disrupt the completion of the Nord Stream-2. For Germany, this is a serious win.
And Russia’s main gain is that western sanctions were not able to make a strategically important project fail. The country had enough technological, financial and political resources to bring the project to a successful conclusion.
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