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China Joins Russia in Calling for UN Probe of Nord Stream Blasts

Bornholm gas leak from nord stream 2
Gas roils the surface off Bornholm near the leak from Nord Stream 2 (Danish Defence Command)

Published Feb 25, 2023 1:36 PM by The Maritime Executive

China has joined Russia in calling for a UN investigation into the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline system, pointing to recent allegations of U.S. involvement in the attack. 

On September 26, 2022, two Russian underwater pipelines carrying natural gas to Europe, the Nord Stream I and II, exploded on the same day under the Baltic Sea, causing large amounts of gas to leak into the nearby sea. After the explosion, the nearest coastal states - Denmark and Sweden - both confirmed that it was an act of sabotage. However, ongoing investigations by Swedish, Danish and German authorities have not pinned the blame on any one country or actor.

Early this month, veteran U.S. investigative journalist Seymour Hersh self-published a report alleging that U.S. Navy divers placed explosives on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipeline systems during a NATO exercise in June 2022. After waiting a period of several months, the explosive charges were detonated remotely using a sonar signal, according to Hersh. The White House, CIA and Pentagon have vehemently denied Hersh's allegations; China and Russia have embraced them, and have given Hersh's views top billing. 

"What he [Biden] was doing it for was to prevent Germany and Western Europe, in case the winter came quickly, from opening up the pipeline," Hersh said in an interview with Russian state-owned outlet RT.

Russia, which has also been accused of masterminding the same sabotage attack, tabled a draft resolution at the UN Security Council last week to call for the formation of a team of independent investigators to unravel the mystery of the attack. The resolution proposes that an independent international commission of lawyers be established to investigate the sabotage. The commission would be tasked with providing a clear picture of the events leading up to the explosion and ensuring that those responsible are held accountable.

China’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Zhang Jun, announced that China is in support of the draft resolution, and the Chinese Foreign Ministry continued the push later in the week. 

"We urge the US to give credible explanations as soon as possible for the [allegation] that the US was behind the Nord Stream blast, and credibly respond to the questions and concerns in the international community," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin on Friday. "China believes that there should be an objective, impartial and professional investigation into the explosions, and those responsible must be held to account. . . . the so-called national investigations conducted by NATO countries are no different from asking a person to probe into himself."

The United States opposes the creation of a UN-led investigation into the attacks. 

"Let us not be fooled by Russia’s claim it only wants an 'impartial' investigation. Its draft resolution clearly implicates the United States and mischaracterizes statements by U.S. officials. Russia does not seek an impartial investigation. It seeks to prejudice ongoing ones toward a predetermined conclusion of its choosing," said U.S. political counselor John Kelley in a statement.