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72% Of UN Security Council Backed Call To Investigate Nord Stream Bombing

Above photo: Chinese Permanent Representative to the UN Zhang Jun. AP/Seth Wenig.

“International arbitration may be defined as the substitution of many burning questions for a smoldering one.” —Ambrose Bierce

“The wicked flee when no man pursueth…” —Proverbs 28:1 (King James Version)

A Burning Question

On March 27, 2023, the UN Security Council (UNSC) failed to pass a Russia-initiated Resolution calling for a UN investigation into the Nord Stream pipeline bombing. [1] Russia’s co-sponsors were the People’s Republic of China, Belarus, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Nicaragua, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. (See ADDENDUM I, Ambassador Fernandes of Mozambique, President.)

The Resolution reads in part:

Stressing that all responsible for organizing, sponsoring and carrying out this act of sabotage must be brought to account,

  1. Requests the Secretary-General to establish an international independent investigation Commission (“the Commission”) to conduct comprehensive, transparent and impartial international investigation of all aspects of the act of sabotage on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines, including identification of its perpetrators, sponsors, organizers and accomplices;

  2. Decides that the Commission shall be composed of impartial and internationally respected, experienced experts who shall be selected by the Secretary-General and shall be furnished with an adequate number of experienced and impartial staff…

Here was the vote:

FOR:  3

(Brazil, China, Russia)

AGAINST:  0

(None)

ABSTENTIONS:  12

(Albania, Ecuador, France, Gabon, Ghana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America)

This result is reported in the West as a defeat, not just for the Resolution but for Russia. Nevertheless, measured by world population, this resolution garnered overwhelming support:

FOR: 72%

AGAINST: 0%

ABSTENTION: 28% [2] [3]

A Smoldering Question

Looking closer at the numbers the result shows a global political divide between rich and non-rich, between “white” states and those “of color,” and between core states on one side and peripheral and semi-peripheral states on the other. [4] [5] This is true even on the Security Council, which represents less than a third of world population (32%).

Measured by population, 92% of the FOR vote came from countries “of color” (China, Brazil). None of the three countries (Brazil, China and Russia) are among the rich nations of the world, and all three are peripheral or semi-peripheral states in the world-economy. [6]

Contrast this with the group of twelve countries ABSTAINING from the vote. Measured by population, 82% of that vote comes from “white” countries, 88% of the vote is from the rich countries of the world (by nominal GDP per capita), and 86% of the vote is from the core states of the world-economy. [7]

These same divisions appeared over the past year in every UN General Assembly (UNGA) vote concerning the Ukraine war. Each of those UNGA votes were cast on resolutions that in one form or another were meant by the US and collaborating states to serve as condemnations of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine. Every one of those Resolutions passed, yet not one won support from a majority of world population. This shows that most of humanity opposes the Western effort in Ukraine. By population, that opposition comes mostly from countries “of color,” non-rich countries, and peripheral or semi-peripheral countries. [8] [9]

This should not surprise. Just like those UNGA votes, the US-led bloc of nations is openly treating this UNSC vote as a referendum on the war in Ukraine and an opportunity to rhetorically attack Russia, not just a resolution to investigate the bombing. (See ADDENDUM I, Wood.)

What is remarkable is the fact that for this vote, just as in the past UNGA votes, any behind-the-scenes persuasion, cajoling, bribery or threats that the US may have used could not win it the support of a majority of the global population. This is a resounding defeat, not for Russia, but for US “soft” power.

Russia certainly lost this vote, according to the rules of the UNSC, where voting is by country. But among the UNSC member states who represent a portion of the 85+% of humanity that does not live in the rich, white, core countries, Russia and its co-sponsors won overwhelming support.

The Wicked Flee When No Man Pursueth

This Resolution looks nothing like the past year’s various UNGA resolutions on the Ukraine war. Those resolutions all condemned Russia in various ways, and the vote divided accordingly. [10] This UNSC Resolution, by contrast, is politically neutral and does not prejudge the outcome of any UN Nord Stream investigation. Yet the political alignments on this vote in the UNSC look much the same as in the votes in the UNGA. At first glance, this doesn’t make sense.

Whether you consider the Nord Stream bombing a mystery, a cover-up, [11] or a game of peekaboo, [12] you’d expect anyone who wants the truth about the bombing to support the Resolution. But the US and its acolyte nations blocked it.

If the US were being truthful about its knowledge of the pipeline bombing, it would welcome, even demand, that the UNSC investigate the bombing, if for no other reason than to clear its own name. The US claim that it wishes to rely on the investigations of Denmark, Germany and Sweden rings hollow, since a UNSC investigation could only aid the progress of those investigations. (This point was made by the Russian and Chinese ambassadors and by Jeffrey Sachs at the February 21, 2023 UNSC meeting. See ADDENDUM I.)

As it is, those national investigations seem absurdly biased. They are monopolized and kept secret by the investigating countries (two NATO powers and one NATO aspirant, Sweden), all three of which happen to be de facto belligerents on the very side of the Ukraine war widely suspected of the bombing.

All this gives the impression that the national investigations are meant not to discover the truth but to hide it, whether or not the US is a guilty party. (This point was made by the ambassadors of China and Russia. See ADDENDUM I.)

In sum, the abstentions by members of the US camp may have been the result not just of the US wish to charge Russia with ulterior motives in calling for the investigation, and to test the loyalty of the US bloc. The US might also have wanted to conceal a crime. (See ADDENDUM I, Wood.)

Conclusion

This vote shows US perfidy in the Nord Stream matter. Much more important, this UNSC vote exposes the global divide, just the way it was exposed by the votes in the past year’s UN General Assembly Resolutions condemning Russia in various ways. On one side of that divide stands the US, along with mostly rich, white, core nations; on the other side stands most of humanity. Strikingly, since the Russian intervention began in February 2022, much of the West’s political left have chosen not to follow either the global majority regarding the Ukraine conflict, nor the leading anti-imperialist nations, including those that co-sponsored this Resolution.

ADDENDUM I: EXCERPTS OF THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING TRANSCRIPTS FEBRUARY 21 AND MARCH 27, 2023

At the March UNSC meeting the President, Mozambique’s Ambassador Fernandes, introduced the Resolution:

“Members of the Council have before them document S/2023/212, which contains the text of a draft resolution submitted by Belarus, China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Nicaragua, the Russian Federation, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”

At the March UNSC meeting US Ambassador Wood spoke sharply against the Resolution, although the US abstained:

“The United States categorically refutes Russia’s unfounded allegations leveled against us in relation to that act of sabotage. The United States was not involved in any way. As we have said previously, the international community cannot tolerate any deliberate actions to damage critical infrastructure.”

“[The Resolution] was an attempt to discredit the work of ongoing national investigations and prejudice any conclusions they reach that do not comport with Russia’s predetermined and political narrative. It was not an attempt to seek the truth.”

“We cannot allow Russia’s continued spurious allegations to distract the Council or unnecessarily divert the Organization’s scarce resources from other pressing matters deserving of the Council’s attention and resources.”

At the March UNSC meeting Russian Ambassador Nebenzia spoke in support of the Resolution and addressed counter-arguments:

“The draft resolution is proposed by the Russian Federation and is co-sponsored by the People’s Republic of China, along with Belarus, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Nicaragua, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”

“[Denmark, Germany and Sweden] are deliberately and consistently trying to mislead the Council by saying that Russia was informed of their efforts. I would like again to draw attention to the letters we circulated dated 13 March 2023 (S/2023/193) and 24 March 2023 (S/2023/223), which include annexed copies of the correspondence from the Russian missions abroad addressed to the competent authorities in Germany, Denmark and Sweden. It is clear from that correspondence that we received nothing but non-answers from the authorities of those States.”

“At the final stages of the discussions on our draft resolution, the only argument we heard from colleagues who doubted the expediency of an international investigation boiled down to the fact that we first needed to wait for the end of the national investigations. We would like to respond by saying that such investigations can go on for years in the same inefficient and non-transparent manner. However, valuable time is running out, and more and more suspicions are emerging that the efforts of those investigations are not aimed at clarifying the circumstances of the sabotage that occurred, but at ensuring that evidence remains concealed and cleaning up the crime scene.”

“[O]ur initiative in no way limits national investigations. Rather, the text contains a call to ensure wider-ranging cooperation between Member States and the Commission. We trust that it will help to ensure synergies with relevant efforts.”

“[The Resolution’s] adoption would send a clear signal that such acts of sabotage regarding cross-border infrastructure are unacceptable, and the perpetrators should be brought to justice. We are convinced that is in the interests of all States and the international community as a whole.”

At the March UNSC meeting Chinese Ambassador Geng Shuang explained China’s support for the Resolution and addressed counter-arguments:

“It is in the interest of every country concerned to conduct an objective, impartial and professional investigation into the incident, make the results of its investigation public as soon as possible and hold perpetrators accountable.”

“We thank Russia for submitting draft resolution S/2023/212, after taking more than one month to organize in-depth consultations among Council members and demonstrating a flexible and open attitude by incorporating amendments from China and other members into the draft resolution.”

“Indeed, international and national investigations do not contradict each other. An international investigation, under the auspices of the United Nations, can play a coordinating role among different investigations, ensure the fullness and integrity of the chain of custody and make the findings of the investigation authoritative and widely acceptable.”

“Indeed, it has been more than half a year since the Nord Stream pipeline explosions. If an international investigation is to be conducted, evidence must be collected on site as soon as possible. The process must not drag on, lest it become harder to collect evidence, which would affect the results of the investigation.”

“If, however, the countries concerned block the Council’s authorization of an international investigation, it only raises the suspicion that there might be something to hide.”

At the February UNSC meeting to consider a UN investigation of Nord Stream, Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, New York, testified:

“The consequences of the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines are enormous. They include not only the vast economic losses related to the pipelines themselves and their future potential use, but also the heightened threat to transboundary infrastructure of all kinds: submarine Internet cables, international pipelines for gas and hydrogen, transboundary power transmission, offshore wind farms and more.”

“For all of those reasons, the investigation of the Nord Stream explosions by the Security Council is a high global priority.”

“Destroying a pipeline of heavy rolled steel, encased in concrete, at depths of 70 to 90 meters, requires highly advanced technology…”

“To do so undetected, in the exclusive economic zones of Denmark and Sweden, adds greatly to the complexity of the operation. As a number of senior officials have publicly confirmed, an action of this sort must have been carried out by a State-level actor. Only a handful of State-level actors have both the technical capacity and access to the Baltic Sea to have carried out this action. Those include the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, Poland, Norway, Germany, Denmark and Sweden, either individually or in some combination.”

“A recent report by The Washington Post revealed that the intelligence agencies of the NATO countries have privately concluded that there is no evidence whatsoever that Russia carried out this action. That also comports with the fact that Russia had no obvious motive to carry out this act of terrorism on its own critical infrastructure. Indeed, Russia is likely to bear considerable expenses to repair the pipelines. [Par.] Three countries have reportedly carried out investigations of the Nord Stream terrorism, namely, Denmark, Germany and Sweden. Those countries presumably know much about the circumstances of the terrorist attack. Sweden in particular has perhaps the most to tell the world about the crime scene, which its divers investigated. Yet instead of sharing that information globally, Sweden has kept the results of its investigation secret from the rest of the world.”

“Senior United States officials made statements before and after the Nord Stream destruction that showed the United States animus towards the pipelines. On 27 January 2022, Under-Secretary of State Victoria Nuland tweeted, ‘If Russia invades Ukraine, one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward.’ On 7 February, President Biden said, ‘If Russia invades … again, then there will be no longer Nord Stream 2; we will bring an end to it.’ When asked by the reporter how he would do that, he responded, ‘I promise you we will be able to do it.’” [Par.] “On 30 September 2022, immediately following the terrorist attack on the pipeline, Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared that the destruction of the pipeline is ‘also a tremendous opportunity; it’s a tremendous opportunity to once and for all remove the dependence on Russian energy and thus to take away from Vladimir Putin the weaponization of energy as a means of advancing his imperial designs.’ On 28 January 2023, Under-Secretary Nuland declared, in testimony to Senator Ted Cruz in the United States Senate, ‘I am, and I think the Administration is, very gratified to know that Nord Stream 2 is now, as you like to say, a hunk of metal at the bottom of the sea.’” [13]

Reluctant abstentions?: At the March 27, 2023 UNSC meeting, the ambassadors from Ghana and Gabon gave statements that suggest they might have endorsed the resolution but for diplomatic reasons. Gabon’s statement was ironic; Ghana’s was an admonition to the ongoing national investigations.

Gabon’s Ambassador Biang:

Given the perplexing outcome of the voting, it is clear that it will be extremely difficult to get the world to agree to an international investigation that would be detrimental to its interests. For us Africans, who regularly host all sorts of international investigations, and independent experts and members of Parliament for such investigations, who very often put into question the sovereignty of our States, we do not know whether we should be happy or be sad about this turn of events and this confusion. [Par.] We abstained in the voting because we are confused. Of course, we intend to avail ourselves of the arguments put forward here today by all sides whenever these questions are put to our countries. It goes without saying that no one will accept any more moral lectures from anyone on unlawful and reprehensible acts that affect international security. It is clear that the death knell of international responsibility that is now ringing is, inevitably, heralding the advent of uncertainty for the people of the world, who, in their distress and in the face of illicit actions or facts that threaten international security, risk more than ever being at the mercy of the initiative of States, while knowing that States basically only act according to their own interests. It certainly works for the benefit of the sovereignty of each State, and it is certainly to the detriment of impartiality, transparency and independence.”

Ghana’s Ambassador Oppong-Ntiri:

First, the ongoing national investigations should be expedited. They should be time-bound, not open-ended, and should endeavor to keep the Russian authorities and operators informed of all their actions in a timely fashion, as well as seeking their cooperation as necessary. [Par.] Secondly, given the global level of interest in the matter, it is important to keep the Council regularly updated on developments in the ongoing national investigations. In that regard, we welcome, the joint letters of 21 February and 24 March submitted by Germany, Denmark and Sweden, and encourage additional relevant and positive updates of that kind.”

ADDENDUM II: CALCULATIONS

All percentages of world population by country come from Worldometer: Countries in the world by population (2023).

Comparisons of GDPcn (nominal GDP per capita) can be made from the data at Worldometer: GDP per Capita.

Countries named “of color” or “white” means that, according to US usage, those populations predominate in a given country. Racial and ethnic statistics for each country can be found at the CIA’s cite: The World Factbook.

All UNSC members are listed here, followed by percentage of world population, GDPcn (nominal GDP per capita), core or non-core status (C or N-C), and designation “of color” or “white” (OC or W).

Albania, 0.04%, $4,521, N-C, W

Brazil, 2.73%, $9,881, N-C, OC

China, 18.47%, $8,612, N-C, OC

Ecuador, 0.23%, $6,214, N-C, OC

France, 0.84%, $39,827, C, W

Gabon, 0.03%, $7,271, N-C, OC

Ghana, 0.4%, $2,026, N-C, OC

Japan, 1.62%, $38,214, C, OC

Malta, 0.01%, $28,585, N-C (or C ?), W

Mozambique, 0.4%, $441, N-C, OC

Russian Federation, 1.87%, $10,846, N-C, W

Switzerland, 0.11%, $80,296, C, W

United Arab Emirates, 0.13%, $40,325, N-C, OC

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, 0.87%, $39,532, C, W

United States of America, 4.25%, $59,939, C, W

Calculations:

Voting FOR the Resolution (Brazil, China, Russia)

(2.73 + 18.47 + 1.87 = 23.07%)

ABSTENTIONS (Albania, Ecuador, France, Gabon, Ghana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America)

(0.04 + 0.23 + 0.84 + 0.03 + 0.4 + 1.62 + 0.01 + 0.4 + 0.11 + 0.13 + 0.87 + 4.25 = 8.93%)

Percentage of world population represented on the UNSC:

(8.93 + 23.07 = 32%)

Percentages of vote by population (out of 100%):

FOR (8.93 / 32 = 0.2790625 = 28%)

ABSTENTION (23.07 / 32 = 0.7209375 = 72%)

Percentage of FOR votes by population from non-core countries (100%)

Percentage of FOR votes by population from non-rich countries (100%)

Percentage of FOR votes by population from countries of color (18.47 + 2.73 / 23.07 = 0.92%)

Percentage of ABSTENTIONS by population from core countries

(0.84 + 1.62 + 0.11 + 0.87 + 4.25 = 7.69)

(0.84 + 1.62 + 0.11 + 0.87 + 4.25 / 8.93 = 0.861142217245241 = 86%)

Percentage of ABSTENTIONS by population from rich countries

(0.84 + 1.62 + 0.01 + 0.11 + 0.13 + 0.87 + 4.25 = 7.83)

(0.84 + 1.62 + 0.01 + 0.11 + 0.13 + 0.87 + 4.25 / 8.93 = 0.876819708846585 = 88%)

Percentage of ABSTENTIONS by population from white countries

(0.04 + 0.84 + 0.01 + 0.11 + 0.87 + 4.25 = 6.12)

(6.12 / 7.47 = 0.819277108433735 = 82%)

1 The Resolution won only three of the nine votes needed to pass.

See ADDENDUM II: CALCULATIONS

3 Voting in the UN Security Council, just as in the UN General Assembly, is wildly disproportionate to population. The UNSC consists of 15 members, representing 32% of world population. Each country gets a single vote. For example, one vote each belongs to: Malta (population 442 thousand, or 0.1% of world pop.); Switzerland (pop. 8 million, or 0.11% of world pop.); China (pop. 1.4 billion, or 18.47% of world pop.).

4 “The countries of the world can be divided into two major world regions: the ‘core’ and the ‘periphery.’ The core includes major world powers and the countries that contain much of the wealth of the planet. The periphery has those countries that are not reaping the benefits of global wealth and globalization.” (Colin Stief, ThoughtCo.com, 1/21/20). And see Immanuel Wallerstein, World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction, Duke University Press, 2004. And on value-extraction from peripheral and semi-peripheral states to the core, see “Global Commodity Chains and the New Imperialism(Suwandi, Jonna & Foster, Monthly Review, 3/1/2019).

5 According to Salvatore Babones (2005), these are the core countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong [region of China], Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States.

6 See ADDENDUM II: CALCULATIONS

7 See ADDENDUM II: CALCULATIONS

8 See my previous articles on UN General Assembly votes: “73% of the World’s Population Did Not Call for Russian Reparations to Ukraine” (November 23, 2022), here, here, or here; “55% of Humanity Does Not Reject the Accession to Russia of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia” (October 21, 2022), herehere, or here; “Global Divide: 76% of Humanity (& Nearly All Poorer Nations of Color) Did Not Vote To Kick Russia Off the UN Human Rights Council” (April 25, 2022), herehere, or here; “The UN Condemnation of Russia is Endorsed by Countries Run by the Richest, Oldest, Whitest People on Earth But Only 41% of the World’s Population” (March 28, 2022), herehere, or here.

9 Very recently China’s Foreign Ministry issued a 4000-word communique, US Hegemony and Its Perils. The document does much to explain the global divide and the bitterness felt in the world outside the US-led core nations. From the Introduction: “Since becoming the world’s most powerful country after the two world wars and the Cold War, the United States has acted more boldly to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, pursue, maintain and abuse hegemony, advance subversion and infiltration, and willfully wage wars, bringing harm to the international community. [par.] The United States has developed a hegemonic playbook to stage ‘color revolutions,’ instigate regional disputes, and even directly launch wars under the guise of promoting democracy, freedom and human rights. Clinging to the Cold War mentality, the United States has ramped up bloc politics and stoked conflict and confrontation. It has overstretched the concept of national security, abused export controls and forced unilateral sanctions upon others. It has taken a selective approach to international law and rules, utilizing or discarding them as it sees fit, and has sought to impose rules that serve its own interests in the name of upholding a ‘rules-based international order.’ [par.] This report, by presenting the relevant facts, seeks to expose the U.S. abuse of hegemony in the political, military, economic, financial, technological and cultural fields, and to draw greater international attention to the perils of the U.S. practices to world peace and stability and the well-being of all peoples.”

10 See fn. 8, above.

11 See Seymour Hersh: “How America Took Out The Nord Stream Pipeline”; “THE COVER-UP: The Biden Administration continues to conceal its responsibility for the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines”; “The Nord Stream Ghost: The False Details in the CIA’s Cover Story.”

12 Video of Biden Saying He’d ‘End’ Nord Stream Resurfaces After Pipeline Leak; Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland: “If Russia invades Ukraine, one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward”; Nuland: “Us Diplomat Victoria Nuland Hails Attack on Nord Stream 2 Pipeline”; “Polish EU Parliament member on Nord Stream explosion: “Thank you, USA”; “British Prime Minister Liz Truss texted ‘It’s done’ to Secretary Antony Blinken on September 26, 2022, moments after the bombing.” And see ADDENDUM I, Sachs.

13 Citations for Sachs’ quotations of President Biden, Under-Secretary Nuland, and Secretary Blinken are in fn. 12, above.

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