Putin`s Streams: ‘Perpetuum Mobile’ of State Terrorism. How Girkin and Malofeev contributed to the Nord Stream 2

The Russian concealed intervention by means of sabotage-terrorist groups in Ukrainian Donbas in spring 2014 and flurry of political and diplomatic activity of the Russian Federation and Gazprom in Europe mean that “crisis in and around Ukraine” inter alia served as an allegation of necessity to build gas pipelines bypassing Ukraine, which is locked in “civil war”.

A new administration will soon appear in the United States. The relations with Russia and Europe will be in the field of its special attention. And the issue of Nord Stream 2 will not be on the periphery of this attention. Because this is not just a gas pipeline from Russia to Europe. Are Germany, Austria and France sponsors of terrorism? Of course not, you will be right, because these countries are being targeted by various terrorist organizations, and their governments have been fighting terrorism for decades. Do Berlin, Vienna and Paris support the policy of state terrorism from the other countries? Again, the answer is no - you say. But in this case, do not be categorical. Of course, we are not talking about direct support for terrorist activities from respectable European countries. However, there is an unconscious indirect assistance that feeds the terrorist activities of one of the most odious regimes of the 21st century. It seems that this was understood in the United States, and somewhere in Europe - Poland, the Baltic countries. Western Europe is still under the illusion, although the events of 2014 should change its perception of the Putin regime and its initiatives.

Synchronization of special operations

In March 2014 an armed sabotage-terrorist group led by the FSB Colonel Igor Girkin, which stationed in Crimea after the occupation by the Russian Federation, prepared by the FSB for the operations in the east of Ukraine and in April moved to Donbas.

I do not know whether Russia took the "recipe" for effective terrorist activity from Eugene Messner, a White Guard emigrant officer who, in his book "Mutiny, or the name of the Third World War," published in Buenos Aires in 1960, prophetically wrote: "The party waging a war will be on the territory of the other party, creating and supporting the guerrilla movement; it will support ideologically and economically, through propaganda and finances, opposition parties there; it will, by all means, feed disobedience, sabotage, terror, creating a revolt there. However, it is obvious that Russia used this subversive-terrorist technology in Ukraine in 2014.

On April 12, it captured the building of the National Police of Ukraine and the Security Service of Ukraine in Sloviansk. From then on, in cooperation with other sabotage groups and illegal armed groups, created by the FSB and GRU (The Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation) they seized control over the part of Donbas. Later in his interviews to the Russian media, after leaving Donbas, Igor Girkin underlined, that an armed confrontation in Ukraine erupted exactly due to the activity of his groups. He thus gave a pass to Russian propaganda to interpret the events as a “the civil war in Ukraine”, which led to “self-destruction of Ukraine”, “transit risks”, etc.

Based on abovementioned propaganda narratives, Russia intensified its energy diplomacy in April-May 2014 with the purpose to speed up the realization of the South Stream gas pipeline project in the Black sea and initiate the Nord Stream 2 in the Baltic Sea under the pretext of unreliability of Ukraine as a transit country for Russian gas exports to Europe, as there is a war in Ukraine.. The meetings between Gazprom top management and high-ranking officials of the European Commission, the German Federal Government, heads of leading European gas companies and special messages of the President Putin to the European leaders on April 10 and May 15, 2014, phone conversations with A. Merkel on April 4, 2014, together with A. Merkel and F. Hollande on June 19 2014, and media-events held my Gazprom`s top-management had to prove that[1]. Here is a list of the main high-level contacts of the time in the language of official messages from the Russian side (the density of contacts is obvious):

 

- April 2, 2014: Brussels hosted the working meetings of Alexey Miller, Chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee with Gunter Oettinger, European Commissioner for Energy and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Foreign Minister.

- April 10, 2014: Vladimir Putin addressed a letter to the leaders of several European countries, to which Russian natural gas is supplied via Ukraine's territory.

- April 15, 2014: Strasbourg hosted today a working meeting between Alexey Miller, Chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee and Guenther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Energy in the European Commission.

- April 22, 2014: Gazprom and Austria point out relevancy of alternative Russian gas routes to Europe.

- May 4, 2014: Telephone conversation between V. Putin and A. Merkel. Discussion of the crisis situation in Ukraine continued ... The leaders of Russia and Germany also exchanged their opinions on ensuring the supply and transit of Russian gas in accordance with the outcomes of multilateral gas consultations held recently in Warsaw with participation of Russia, EU and Ukraine.

- 15 May 2014: Vladimir Putin addressed to the leaders of the European countries with the message regarding the supply and transit of Russian gas across the territory of Ukraine.

- June 19, 2014: Telephone conversation with Angela Merkel and François Hollande. The exchange of views on the development of the crisis in Ukraine continued. They also discussed possible consequences of Kyiv's disruption of talks on settling debt for Russian gas supplies on Europe’s economy and energy security.

Alexander Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of the Board of PJSC Gazprom and General Director of Gazpromexport, who played the role of “corporate foreign minister”, made two demonstrative statements in April-May.

The first appeared in an interview for the German Handelsblatt on April 7, 2014: “In order to avoid risks with unreliable transit countries, Gazprom and its European partners have built the Nord Stream gas pipeline via the Baltic Sea, and are planning to build South Stream pipeline through the Black Sea.” [2]

The second Medvedev’s statement – about the expansion of the Nord Stream – was made at his meeting with Han Fennema, CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board of the Dutch gas company Gasunie on May 22, 2014, and was reflected in the official press release: “In addition, the meeting participants discussed the issues of improving the European gas infrastructure in terms of boosting Russian gas supplies to Europe. They mentioned the successful progress and the possible expansion of the Nord Stream project.[3]

On June 3, 2014, at the Press Conference with Gazprom’s top management, the materials were disseminated, in particular “Gas Export and Enhancing Reliability of Gas Supply to Europe”, where it was stated: “With a view to boost direct supplies of Russian natural gas to European consumers, the possibility of constructing the Yamal – Europe-2 gas pipeline and extending the Nord Stream project is being studied.”[4]

On June 16, at the Joint Press Conference with Alexander Novak, Russian Minister of Energy, Alexey Miller, Chairman of Gazprom Management Committee stated: “State and economic management mechanisms have been destroyed. In fact, Ukraine is destroying itself…As for the Ukrainian transit risks. The Russian party has been speaking about them for a long time. And it is due to the Ukrainian transit risks that such gas pipelines as Nord Stream and South Stream are being constructed. And speaking of current Ukrainian transit risks, there are some and rather considerable ones.”[5]

It is noteworthy that the next day, June 17, an act of sabotage occurred on the Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhhorod main gas pipeline in the Poltava region. A similar sabotage took place on the same gas pipeline on May 12 in Ivano-Frankivsk region. The explosion coincided with the cessation of gas supplies for Ukraine and the withdrawal of the Russian side from the negotiation process with the participation of the European Commission on the security of natural gas supplies to Ukraine and the EU.

In the special Gazprom’s Press Release of July11, 2014, it was stated: “The Gazprom Board of Directors approved the Company's policy on export routes diversification and additional measures aimed at increasing the reliability of gas supplies to European markets. With a view to improve the reliability of supplies the Company carries out projects for building new export gas pipelines which mitigate transit risks…

Two strings of the Nord Stream gas pipeline are laid under the Baltic Sea. There is a possibility to extend this pipeline corridor by building one or two additional strings.

The South Stream project is progressing according to schedule…”[6].

Thus, the terrorist activity of sabotage groups of the Russian FSB in Donbas in April-July 2014 correlates with the activity of the Russian political leadership and Gazprom in Europe to spread at the international level the narratives about the “crisis in Ukraine”, “civil war” and “self-destruction by Ukraine” as a basis for its discrediting as a transit country with the simultaneous imposition on Europeans of bypass gas pipeline projects in the Black and Baltic Seas. It was during this period that the possibility of expanding the Nord Stream was first mentioned, and a corresponding project called Nord Stream 2 was officially announced in 2015 at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

The political and diplomatic activity of Russia and Gazprom in pushing for the expansion of the Nord Stream in Europe declined sharply after July 17, 2014 – the shootdown of the MH17 flight by Buk-M1antiair missile launcher in the sky over the occupied territories of Donbas. It is obvious that the suspicion of Russia as the culprit of the shootdown of a civilian aircraft created a negative background for Kremlin to continue its actions to directly lobby for the bypassing gas pipeline project. Russia took a time-out by switching to the Chinese direction – lobbying of the Power of Siberia pipeline, while the topic of expanding Nord Stream was calmly transferred to the inter-corporate level with a group of European companies to create a "shock fist" in Europe, which will address the issue of project approval from within Europe.

Financing of terrorist activities

The aspect of financing the "war in Ukraine" by the gas lobby is of key importance for finding out the hidden mechanism of launching and supporting subversive and terrorist activities. Part of the funds for the activities of Girkin's group was received through the FSB. But only a part. The appearance in the war against Ukraine of the name of the Orthodox oligarch Konstantin Malofeev and his company -- Marshall Capital, in which Igor Girkin worked as the head of the corporate security service, indicates the most probable indirect scheme of financing the Russian hybrid invasion under the scenario of “civil war” with the aim to create political, diplomatic  and media illustrations of "transit risks through Ukraine", "Ukraine as an unreliable transit link" and the need to build bypass pipelines.

In general, it looks like this:

The Kremlin (Vladimir Putin) directs Gazprom (Alexei Miller) to perform complexes of works on the construction of South Stream and Nord Stream 2 bypassing Ukraine through a system of contracts with inflated budget. At the same time, the FSB (Alexander Bortnikov) receives a task of a special operation to destabilize Ukraine to demonstrate to Europe its unreliability as a transit link→

Gazprom allocates overpriced financing to contractors: Arkady Rotenberg’s Stroygazmontazh (SGM) and Gennady Tymchenko’s Stroytransneftegaz (STNG) – people from Putin's inner circle (Russian experts have repeatedly pointed out that the cost of building 1 km of gas pipeline across Russia is more than twice as high as its European analogues) →

SGM and STNG direct part of the funds through the traditional mechanism of fictitious work to fill the "anti-transit fund" for further special operations "Civil War in Ukraine". The FSB, in agreement with the Kremlin, determines Konstantin Malofeev’s Marshal Capital as the performer of the special operation →

Private Marshall Capital finances the activities of the subversive terrorist group of Igor Girkin, who is both a subordinate of K. Malofeev and an officer of the FSB.

However, withdrawals from contractors did not go directly to Marshall Capital due to certain business transactions, as there was a risk of exposing the scheme in the future. But probably such a deal was planned due to the purchase by A. Rothenberg of a Marshall Capital’s stake (10.7% for $ 1.55 billion) in Rostelecom in 2013. It was stopped at the last minute, probably because of the high risk of exposure and a threat of sanctions in the future, when the operation begins. According to our estimates, preference was given to the cash filling of the "anti-transit fund" through the cashing out of part of the kickbacks from SGM contracts for the construction of gas pipelines and compressor stations in Russia. (K. Malofeev, in the end, was able to sell its stake in Rostelecom to its subsidiary and receive funds).

This scheme is indirectly indicated by the report "Gazprom: Performing as Designed" by analysts of Sberbank CIB Alex Fek and Anna Kotelnikova in 2018, which caused a resonance and for which they were fired. It contained the following conclusions:

  • contractors and Gazprom work together under the guise of implementing projects in Russia, where it is difficult to control them;
  • Gazprom's huge capital expenditures are intended for contractors (SGM and STNG);
  • they are all connected with the Russian authorities.

 

Cкрін 1. Титульна сторінка сайту СГМ, що демонструє залученість його до усіх газопровідних проектів РФ в обхід України

Screen 1. The title page of the SGM website, which demonstrates its involvement to all gas pipeline projects of the Russian Federation bypassing Ukraine

 

Also, «The Insider» in the publication of May 27, 2014 stated: «There could be several scenarios of interaction between Malofeev and the administration [Office of the President of the Russian Federation – author’s note]. One of the most likely is the direct use of Malofeev's resources to conduct hostilities without the use of Russia's official armed forces. It is known that Malofeev had previously participated in a "symbiosis" with the authorities, when his Safe Internet League became one of the main initiators of laws on censorship on the Internet, thus presenting these laws as coming from civil society. In the case of Ukraine, Malofeev is doing a service by allowing the authorities to say that the separatist initiative comes from some "militia"[7].

In the language of international law

Given that in 2019 Gazprom bought the shares of contractors and became their owner, the described scheme looks quite real and fits into the algorithm of concealment through reorganization under its roof of SGM and STNG from possible investigations in the future.

Malofeev's resources were, in fact, by the origin funded by state-owned companies, the flow of which the Kremlin secretly directed through a FSB-controlled private company to finance a special operation – the Civil War, in Ukraine.

The Geneva Conference on Terrorism of 1987, in its declaration "The Geneva Declaration on Terrorism", unambiguously defines the following actions as state terrorism:

- creation and support of armed detachments of mercenaries to destroy the sovereignty of another state.

- secret operations of intelligence or other state forces aimed at destabilizing or subordinating another state.

This is exactly what happened in Ukraine in the spring of 2014.

Russia's covert invasion of Ukrainian Donbas by sabotage and terrorist groups in the spring of 2014 and the sharp surge in political and diplomatic activity between Russia and Gazprom in Europe suggest that the "crisis in and around Ukraine" served, among other things, to justify the need to build gas pipelines bypassing Ukraine, covered by the "civil war", and for the inclination of the European politicians, especially German ones, to support bypassing projects. As you can see, in the case of Germany, Austria, France, it worked brilliantly and still continues to work.

Why is the Kremlin trying so hard to complete Nord Stream 2 at any cost? The answer becomes clear in the context of the above. Putin's streams should expand the financial capabilities of the aggressive subversive regime in Europe – propaganda, migration waves, poisoning, killings, expanding the network of Putin's stewardship. That is, German and Austrian burghers, whose governments actively support Nord Stream 2 by paying Russia for natural gas coming to the EU through Putin's pipelines, will fund the Kremlin's war against Europe from within Europe. This is the "perpetuum mobile" of the Putin regime.

Having made some effort and time to destabilize Ukraine to demonstrate to Europeans the need to compensate for risks, Russia is building new "safe" Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream pipelines that will feed the Kremlin's rulers and their entourage for at least half a century, as well as their European proxies. This is the pinnacle of the art of hybrid technology when Russia is waging war against Europe at the expense of Europe itself.

It seems that the Americans have felt how Putin's "perpetuum mobile machine" works. The Senate and House of Representatives have two bills recognizing Russia as a sponsor of terrorism. The latest, H.R.7561, was introduced in July this year by Democratic Congressman Max Rose in the context of information that Russia had paid the Taliban money for the killings of US troops in Afghanistan. Democrat Biden won the US election. There is a good opportunity to revive the consideration of the bill or submit a new one.

Statements by individuals from the former Obama Democrat team who will be members of Biden's new team eloquently suggest that there will be no easing of US policy on Nord Stream 2. And the new administration will not just look for additional arguments for the Germans but can act in unexpected manner. And this may be not only about stopping the construction of Nord Stream 2, but also about imposing sanctions on Gazprom, as one of the main sources of generation through the backlash of the invisible financial flow to support terrorist and subversive activities in Ukraine and Europe.

 

The article was originally published in the Mirror Weekly on November 30, 2020. Original version in Ukrainian is available online: //zn.ua/ukr/international/putinski-potoki-perpetuum-mobile-derzhavnoho-terorizmu-.html 

Based on latest research of the CGS Strategy XXI “Synchronization of intervention of the Russian Federation in the east of Ukraine in 2014 with its diplomatic efforts to promote an extension of the Nord Stream in Europe”

 



Briefs


Research


Reports and Presentations


Articles


Expert comments