REUTERS

The Russian support vessels involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipelaying have once again ignored environmental restrictions during works on completion of the B branch, Ukraine's Foreign Intelligence Service, SZRU, reports.

The Yuriy Topchev support vessel on March 2 and  March 10 during transportation of pipe batches from the port of Mukran failed to navigate within the previously established route beyond the protected areas in Germany's free economic zone and thus violated the boundaries of the birds' wintering zone, the SZRU wrote in a report.

Such breaches of environmental rules by vessels involved in Russia's project (Finval, Umka, Vladislav Strizhov, Yuriy Topchev) appear to be systematic.

It should also be recalled that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is being laid in the area where World War 2-era chemical warfare agents were repeatedly spotted on the seabed. While the containers carrying such highly hazardous agents have been dumped in a designated area off the coast of Bornholm, over the past half-century, sea currents have scattered them over a wider area, mostly south of the island.

Read alsoU.S. looking into more sanctions against Nord Stream 2Today, the Fortuna pipelayer risks damaging such containers with its stabilizing anchors, thus inflicting major damage to the environment and jeopardizing the lives and health of the pipelayer's crew.

Nord Stream 2: Background

The Nord Stream 2 project envisages 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.

The 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.

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.

On December 11, 2020, the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline resumed.

The U.S. Senate approved the NDAA, which provides for new sanctions against Russia's Nord Stream 2.

On January 7, 2021, a fund was established in Germany to support the completion of the Nord Stream 2 project.

On January 13, 2021, the U.S. Department of State notified European companies involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2 of the risk of having new sanctions imposed on them.

On February 22, 2021, the United States imposed new sanctions on the Russian FORTUNA vessel building Nord Stream 2.

As of February 23, 2021, eighteen European companies at once refused to complete the construction of Nord Stream 2 over the U.S. sanctions.

On March 4, 2021, the construction of Nord Stream 2 in Danish waters was extended by late September.

Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolyev suggested Nord Stream 2 most likely would never be completed due to the sanctions the companies involved are facing in case they remain part of the project.