July 29, 2021


Russia is desperately trying to circumvent economic sanctions imposed on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, Ukraine’s Foreign Intelligence Service warns as the Kremlin seeks to complete as soon as possible its notorious project posing a major threat to the European energy security.

In this regard, SZRU intelligence analysts have highlighted several directions Russia is pursuing.

1. Temporary (until project completion) change of ownership in companies involved in the project to evade sanctions.

As an example, SZRU notes the Academic Chersky pipe-laying vessel for which ownership rights in June 2020 were transferred from PJSC GAZPROMFLOT to Temryuk Trans Marin LLC, and then in late 2020 – further to Mortransservice LLC.

Also in late July 2020, PJSC GAZPROMFLOT transferred the vessels – the Ostap Sheremeta and the Ivan Sidorenko – to JSC Nobility.

2. Alternative opportunities for fulfilling requirements for pipeline launch after construction completion (certification and insurance).

One of such options is to do their own certification and insurance work. The issue became relevant after a Swiss insurance firm Zurich Insurance Group pulled out of the Nord Stream 2 project over fear of sanctions.

To this end, on January 11, 2021, Russia set up Constanta Insurance Company LLC, which within an unprecedentedly short period – just two days after its founding on January 13, received an operating license from the Bank of Russia. On March 5, the All-Russian Union of Insurers handed the new firm a permit for overseas operations, thus allowing it to become the pipeline project’s insurer.

3. Acquisition from European companies of equipment and services for the Nord Stream 2 in small batches and through intermediaries.

In September 2020, equipment for working on pipe edges and electro-hydraulic power units was purchased for the Akademik Chersky pipelayer from the Italian company Nuova Patavium. To escape sanctions, a scheme was tailored to deliver the equipment to Russia in several batches, each worth below $200,000. After the entire set arrived, it was forwarded to the port of destination and installed on board the Academik Chersky.

These facts have been confirmed by a Deutsche Welle investigation, SZRU recalls.

In addition, Poland has slapped sanctions on two German vessels, the Krebs Jet and the Krebs Geo, both flying Poland’s flag. The ships took part in the Nord Stream 2 project, mostly delivering crews to pipe-laying vessels and monitoring protected areas in the construction zone. The Gdańsk Maritime Chamber has deregistered both vessels. A procedure has been launched for recalling the right to fly Poland’s flag, while ship operation safety paperwork was revoked.