Russia's efforts to implement its Nord Stream 2 gas pipe, which is the Kremlin's political project, threatens the energy security of European countries, as well as draws worrying prospects for maintaining balance in the Baltic Sea ecosystem, Ukrainian intelligence says.
In particular, Russia neglects technological protocols and environmental restrictions as it seeks to complete the pipeline's Branch B," the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine (SZR) has reported.
"It's about the observance by maintenance vessels of the approved route during navigation from the port of Mukran (Germany) to a construction side in the exclusive sea economic zone of Denmark," the report reads.
In recent months, intelligence analysts note, the Finval and Umka vessels, as well as Vladislav Strizhov and Yuriy Topchev icebreakers, while in Germany's territorial waters, have repeatedly passed through the birds' wintering zone, where any navigation is prohibited.
As reported earlier, Russia has resumed and paced up construction works toward the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipe. At 65 to 70 m depths, the pipe is being laid twice as fast as at much shallower depths.
Such haste, SZR says, is due to a political decision taken by the Kremlin – to complete construction as soon as possible and, in line with Soviet traditions, to time it to coincide with the national holiday, Russia Day, marked annually on June 12.
Nord Stream 2: Background
The Nord Stream 2 project envisages the construction and operation of two gas pipeline branches with a total throughput capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year from the coast of Russia through the Baltic Sea to Germany. It should connect Russia's Ust-Lug and Germany's Greifswald. This new pipeline bypassing Ukraine is to be built next to the existing Nord Stream 1 pipeline.
Read alsoGermany may freeze Nord Stream 2 after September elections – mediaThe construction of the pipeline was expected to be completed before the end of 2019.
The pipeline will be 1,220 km long. The project is being implemented by Russia's Gazprom in alliance with a number of European companies. Ukraine stands against the construction of Nord Stream 2 as it will most likely lose its status of a gas transit country, while its potential revenue losses are estimated at US$3 billion annually. The project is also highly criticized by the U.S., Poland, and the Baltic States.
According to media reports, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden intends to do his best to prevent the construction of Nord Stream 2.
On December 6, 2020, United States Charge d'Affaires to Germany Robin Quinville called on the EU and Germany to declare a moratorium on the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
On December 9, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with expanded restrictions against the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
Read alsoPoland's PM hits back at German president over Nord Stream 2 remarksOn December 11, 2020, the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline resumed.
Germany's maritime regulator BSH says the construction works on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline could be stopped for an indefinite period in German waters but opponents still need to give detailed reasons to justify the halt.
On February 7, 2021, the Nord Stream 2 operator announced the start of pipe-laying in Danish waters.