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Russia Says 'Provocative Activity' by US, NATO in Black Sea Aims to Hamper Nord Stream 2

© REUTERS / YORUK ISIKFrench Navy's frigate Auvergne sails in the Bosphorus as it is on its way to the Black Sea in Istanbul, Turkey, December 13, 2021
French Navy's frigate Auvergne sails in the Bosphorus as it is on its way to the Black Sea in Istanbul, Turkey, December 13, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.12.2021
Russia has repeatedly warned against politicising the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, which was completed in September and is currently undergoing certification by European and German regulators.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has stated that Western countries are trying to damage the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project via provocative measures in the Black Sea.

"All this activity is based on the wild allergy of the US and NATO to the energy project, which is primarily beneficial to all of Europe and separate European countries", Zakharova said on Wednesday.

She added that since Washington and Brussels admitted that political pressure, aggressive rhetoric, and blackmail had not brought about their desired results in terms of halting the project, they have "switched to a different kind of action".
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"NATO's provocative activity in the Black Sea region indicates the true nature of their intentions", the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman stated.

The statement follows the US Navy missile destroyer Arleigh Burke transiting from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea after conducting operations with NATO allies and regional partners last week.
In another development at the time, Russia's Black Sea Fleet kept an eagle eye on the French frigate Auvergne, which had earlier entered the Black Sea.
This came after Russian Su-27 fighter jets were scrambled to shadow French Rafale and Mirage-2000 warplanes as well as a French Air Force C-135 tanker aircraft as they flew over the Black Sea.

"After the foreign military aircraft turned away from the state border of the Russian Federation, the Russian fighters safely returned to their home base. A violation of the state border was not allowed to occur", the Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement at the time.

Prior to the Auvergne, France had not deployed a warship to the Black Sea since September 2020, yet, conducted surveillance flights and missions to probe the security of Russia's maritime borders in February and May 2021, with Russian jets scrambled to intercept and escort the potential intruders each time.
The Russian Defence Ministry also pointed to an increase in US and NATO military activities in the Black Sea region last month, also qualifying unscheduled NATO drills close to the Russian border as aggression that threatens regional stability.
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The deployment of the Auvergne frigate came as NATO has been strengthening its military foothold in the Black Sea region amid Western media reports that Russia may be planning an "invasion" of Ukraine, allegations that Moscow rejects as unsubstantiated.
The US and its NATO allies have repeatedly accused Russia of a troop buildup on the country's border with Ukraine as possible preparation for an invasion. Russia denies the accusations, stressing that NATO's military activity near Russia's borders poses a threat to the nation's security and that Moscow reserves the right to move its troops on its own territory.

The Russian president's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, for his part, lambasted the West ramping up hysteria about Moscow's purported plans to invade Ukraine, warning of possible foreign provocations related to the claims.

He berated the US and NATO for their provocative activities near Russia's borders, referring to Washington and the alliance moving their military infrastructure and armed forces closer to the area. Peskov warned NATO members against providing Ukraine with modern weaponry, noting that by doing so these countries inspire Kiev to reckless behaviour and attempts to resolve pressing issues via the use of force.

Nord Stream 2 Project

A joint venture of Gazprom, Royal Dutch Shell, OMV, Engie, Uniper, and Wintershall, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is designed to carry natural gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea.
The already completed project awaits clearance from a German regulator before Russia can start exporting gas through the pipeline.
A worker inspects parts of the largest gas storage facility of Western Europe in Rehden, northern Germany - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.12.2021
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Washington previously imposed a number of sanctions on the project, arguing that once Nord Stream 2 is operational, Europe will become even more dependent on Russia's energy resources, something that will allegedly help Moscow gain political leverage.
Moscow has repeatedly underlined that the project is purely economic, and the way in which the White House opposes Nord Stream 2 is an example of unfair competition.
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