United States, Russian Federation Delegates Trade Barbs, Deny Responsibility, as Council Members Call for Investigation of Incident
The international community must take steps to address the consequences of the recent leaks in the Nord Stream pipelines, while its causes are being investigated, Navid Hanif, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development at the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, told the Security Council today, in a meeting requested by the Russian Federation to discuss the incidents.
Noting that the leaks led to the release of an unknown quantity of methane, Mr. Hanif pointed out that the gas has more than 80 times the planet-warming potency of carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame and underscored the need to accelerate the transition to a clean and resilient energy system.
Sergey Kupriyanov, Spokesperson for Gazprom, also addressing the Council, called the leaks “absolutely unprecedented”, and stated that existing data pointed to physical damage to the pipeline as the cause of the incidents. Noting that the pipelines have been designed to deliver 110 billion cubic metres of gas per year, representing a quarter of Europe’s gas consumption in the European Union, he said steps are being taken to make the system operational once more, as they had resulted in Europe’s being “indefinitely deprived of a key route for the delivery of a crucial energy resource”.
His remarks were followed by those of Marc-Antoine Eyl-Mazzega, Director of the Center for Energy and Climate, French Institute on Foreign Relations, who noted that the explosions, which did not proceed from an accident, represented yet another episode in the long-lasting geopolitical confrontation between the United States and the Russian Federation on one hand, and between the latter and Europe on the other hand, where energy and pipeline infrastructure has been weaponized. The massive methane leak in the aftermath of the incident is dangerous, he said, voicing regret that the Russian Federation has not signed on to the Global Methane Pledge. Further, the targeting of energy infrastructure by sophisticated sabotage “should be a concern for Europe and the rest of the world”, he said.
In the ensuing discussion, many Council members expressed concern about the impacts of the leaks on the environment and on energy markets, with some pointing out that such disruptions would have a disproportionate impact on developing countries. Several members called for the incidents to be investigated while avoiding an escalation in already fraught geopolitical tensions. Meanwhile, the representatives of the Russian Federation and the United States exchanged barbs, with the former implying the involvement of the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the leaks, while the latter denied his country’s involvement in the incidents, despite the former’s “inflammatory rhetoric” and its use of the Council as a platform to spread disinformation.
The representative of the Russian Federation said his country had initiated a criminal proceeding under the act of international terrorism following the sabotage of the three Nord Stream pipelines, asserting that the complexity and scale of such acts were beyond the power of ordinary terrorists, and had to have been caused by State- or State-controlled actors. Recalling that United States President Joseph R. Biden had said that, if the Russian Federation were to invade, there would no longer be a Nord Stream 2, he asked the United States representative if he could confirm that his country was not involved in the sabotage of Nord Stream pipelines. Pointing out that the damage to the pipelines would leave Europe dependent on a more expensive, unreliable supplier — the United States — he said that country’s liquified gas suppliers should now be celebrating the rupture of the European Union’s energy independence. In a second intervention, he went on to state that it made no sense for his country to destroy a project it had so heavily invested in.
For his part, the representative of the United States expressed support for ongoing European investigative efforts into the leaks, stating that “the search for the truth cannot be rushed”. He then observed that the Russian Federation’s delegation “had a bad day”, as they had to watch that “strangely odd, fascist, Nuremberg-style rally-combined-with-a-Las-Vegas-1970s-show that happened in Moscow this morning to celebrate the illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory”, followed by the Council’s sending a message about that annexation in the afternoon, adding that none of it justified the Russian Federation’s repeated presentation of disinformation and conspiracy theories in the Council. Taking the floor a second time, following the second intervention of his Russian Federation counterpart, he underscored his previous assertion, supported by an observation made by one of the briefers, that Europe’s energy situation is affected more by the Russian Federation’s unreliability as an energy supplier than anything to do with the United States.
The representative of China, pointing out that the leakage is still going on, characterized the incident as a “great calamity” that China “does not wish to see”. He called for an impartial investigation of the incident, which seemed to have resulted from sabotage, thereby constituting an attack on transnational civilian facilities and submarine pipelines in violation of international law.
Meanwhile, the representative of France, Council President for September, speaking in his national capacity, expressed solidarity with Denmark and Sweden following the unprecedented events that impact them from a security and environmental standpoint, and emphasized that the available information indicated that the leaks were the consequence of a deliberate act of sabotage, with two seismic events recorded before the leaks occurred: measurements indicated explosions equivalent to 500 kilogrammes of trinitrotoluene. Expressing support for investigations to be carried out by countries concerned, he went on to denounce the hostile attack on Europe’s energy infrastructure.
Also speaking were representatives of Norway, Mexico, Ireland, Gabon, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Albania, Kenya, India, Brazil and Ghana.
The meeting began at 4:11 p.m. and ended at 5:26 p.m.