The nearer the Nord Stream 2 project completion is, the more our Western partners show their political “neuroticism.” Not only do they regularly impose sanctions against Russia, they have also started outright provocations as the construction is beginning on the final leg of the pipe.
The Nord Stream-2 pipeline runs on the bed of the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany. Its length is 1,234 km; accordingly, two pipeline strings have a total length of 2,468 kilometers, with an annual capacity of 55 bln cubic meters of gas. In fact, Nord Stream 2 is an extension of the Nord Stream pipeline.
The underwater pipeline crosses the territorial waters of Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany. Its construction runs amid unceasing sanctions and mass media hysteria in the West. Recently, Denmark imposed a temporary ban on pipeline construction in its economic zone due to concerns over “cod spawning in the Baltic Sea, during which any construction work is not allowed for environmental reasons.”
However, the period of cod spawning is over, and the Danish Energy Agency gave permission for the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline section running on the Danish continental shelf southeast of the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea. It would seem that the last far-fetched obstacle to further pipe-laying was removed. No way! After the last trump cards were played, the Western “partners” apparently decided to proceed to outright provocations, with only 120 km of pipeline left to lay, a mere 5% of the total amount of work which is due to be completed by the end of September.
After the restart of the pipe-laying in January, NATO warplanes flew more frequently in the area and both NATO members’ warships and civilian foreign ships were regularly sighted there.
On February 8, the Danish Maritime Administration issued a new Notice to Mariners concerning the construction of the gas pipeline. According to this document, a temporary restricted zone with a radius of 1.5 nautical miles was set around the Fortuna pipe-laying barge. On March 28, an unidentified submarine was spotted in this zone at a distance of less than one mile. Fortuna's anchor ropes extend more than one nautical mile away, so the unidentified submarine’s malicious actions could disable the barge's entire anchor positioning system and damage the pipeline. However, this is not the whole story.
The very next day, March 29, a Polish warship began to maneuver dangerously close to the pipe-laying vessel. Due to this unforeseen circumstance, Spasatel Karev, a pipe-laying support vessel, had to sail parallel to this Polish Navy warship (tactical number 823.) It was identified as transport vessel Krakow built in 1990 and currently assigned to the naval base in the town of Świnoujście as part of the 8th Coast Guard Fleet. It is noteworthy that it can be employed as a minelayer.
As for the provocations led by civilian vessels, they began even earlier. For example, on February 22, Polish fishing vessel SWI-106 entered the buffer zone while maintaining radio silence. Russia’s supply vessel Vladislav Strizhev was forced to set a blocking course; as a result, the Polish ship collided with Vladislav Strizhev. After the collision the captain of the Polish vessel established contact and admitted his guilt. Whereas captains, if guilty of provocation, are still able to acknowledge it, the increasingly truculent Polish authorities seem not to care about the consequences.
“Poland, pretending to be the tip of a spear pointed at Russia, and a kind of NATO outpost in European countries, has really gone wild,” Frantz Klintsevich, a member of the Supreme Council of the United Russia party, said in comments on the current Polish policy. “It is absolutely clear that the ugly Polish phenomenon largely stems from thoughtless expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to the east. It doesn’t take into account the mentality of the people living there.”
How bad can the situation in the Nord 2 pipe construction area get? What else will Western strategists come up with? What provocations should Russia be prepared for? Will it come to direct military clashes? Many military experts believe that the situation won’t escalate past "minor skirmishes," and that the pipeline project completion won’t start World War III.
“Some of our eastern neighbors who are currently members of the NATO bloc will still play dirty tricks on us like this provocation," said Col (Ret) Semyon Bagdasarov, a military expert. “To my thinking, we should not bring an armada of our warships to this area because the situation is unlikely to become more serious there.”