By: Alexander Lott (Marie Curie research fellow at the Norwegian Centre for the Law of the Sea).
Matter commented on: The Nord Stream Explosions in the Baltic Sea
Preliminary Western intelligence reports have emerged about a purportedly pro-Ukrainian group of six divers conducting the sabotage against the Nord Stream pipelines in September last year. The Ukrainian Government denies any involvement in such an alleged operation. Nonetheless, recently, the Washington Post and Der Spiegel published a joint report which reached the unequivocal conclusion that:
“A senior Ukrainian military officer with deep ties to the country’s intelligence services played a central role in the bombing of the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines last year, according to officials in Ukraine and elsewhere in Europe, as well as other people knowledgeable about the details of the covert operation. /…/ Chervinsky did not act alone, and he did not plan the operation, according to the people familiar with his role, which has not been previously reported. The officer took orders from more senior Ukrainian officials, who ultimately reported to Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s highest-ranking military officer, said people familiar with how the operation was carried out.”
In this context, this blog post begins by briefly discussing the standards for the potential attribution of the alleged activities of the afore-referred group of divers to Ukraine. This post demonstrates that the legality of the Nord Stream explosions can be assessed from the perspective of the law of armed conflict. This post debates the question of whether an alleged Ukrainian attack against the Nord Stream pipelines violated the law of armed conflict in the wider framework of the ongoing international armed conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine. It examines the legal qualification of the Nord Stream pipelines as a legitimate military objective and the environmental considerations pertaining to the sabotage against these pipelines.