Russia claims it asked US about involvement in Nord Stream explosions


Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday that Moscow demanded an explanation from Washington regarding its involvement in the explosions last September that ruptured the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines.

During a news briefing in Moscow, Zakharova told Anadolu that an explanation was demanded publicly and in a statement by the ministry on the incident published on its website on Feb. 21.

"We have repeatedly spoken publicly, including to American representatives about this. And our comment of Feb. 21 contains the following quote: 'It was emphasized from the Russian side that the US should give explanations about the explosions on the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines and not interfere with an objective investigation to identify the perpetrators,'" she said.

Regarding media reports claiming that the International Criminal Court (ICC) may open two cases against Russia due to its "special military operation" in Ukraine, Zakharova said it was a "controlled leak" aimed at "keeping the topic afloat, but at the same time not to bear any responsibility."

Also, she said, Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute on the ICC and does not have obligations under it, so its decisions will have no legal consequence.

"Therefore, Russia does not cooperate with this body, and possible 'recipes' for arrest coming from the International Criminal Court will be legally null and void for us," she said.

The Nord Stream pipelines, which carried Russian natural gas to northern Germany via the Baltic Sea, were ruptured in a series of blasts on Sept. 26 last year, causing leaks in what officials from countries in the region called "likely sabotage."

Situation in Karabakh

Turning to the situation in Azerbaijan's Karabakh region, Zakharova called remarks by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan claiming Russia had made a commitment to serve as "guarantor of the security" of Karabakh "an attempt to shift responsibility on the third countries."

She stressed that Russia's main goal in the region is |to achieve peace, stability and overcome differences, "but this can only be done within its area of responsibility," which is stipulated by the trilateral agreement of the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia.

"Just open this document and see what commitments our country has made and which it has not, and everything will become quite clear," she said.

To Pashinyan's reproaches that the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is "withdrawing from Armenia," Zakharova said that if the Armenian prime minister meant the bloc's non-involvement in the conflict in Karabakh, then the organization suggested sending a monitoring mission.

However, due to the demands of the Armenian authorities that were unacceptable to other CSTO members, the decision on the mission's deployment was not made, she said.

Russia, China 'concerned' about AUKUS activities in Asia-Pacific

Zakharova said that Russia and China are concerned about the activities of the trilateral military bloc AUKUS, which consists of Australia, the UK and the US, in the Asia-Pacific region.

"We are already discussing this topic with our Chinese friends. We coordinate our reaction in international organizations, public reaction to such things. Both Moscow and Beijing are concerned about this from the point of view of non-proliferation issues, so we are coordinating on this track," she said.

According to her, the prospects of Japan, New Zealand and South Korea joining AUKUS are of particular concern.

According to Zakharova, the tasks of AUKUS are "obvious" -- to extend NATO to a region where it has never been present "for obvious reasons" as a North Atlantic alliance.

Asked about the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, she said Russia will be seeking the implementation of the part concerning its interests using diplomatic methods.

Zakharova also opposed comments by the spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, Stephane Dujarric, who said the grain deal was extended for another 120 days.

"The deal was extended for 60 days. He (Dujarric) also says that he does not know what is going on in the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra. The same person. Maybe this is just a manifestation of incompetence?" she said, referring to the eviction ordered by Kyiv of the monks from the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Zakharova slammed as "absolutely unacceptable" the lack of comment from the UN Secretariat regarding the situation around the monastery.

She said she does not rule out the possibility that the Ukrainian authorities may use force to kick the clergymen out of the monastery

"We strongly condemn these actions, which grossly violate their rights and discriminate against millions of Orthodox Christians.

"We appeal to relevant international organizations with a request to exert the necessary influence on the Ukrainian authorities to put an end to the persecution against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church," she said.

Quality of international rating agencies questioned due to banking crisis

Commenting on the crisis in the Western banking system, Zakharova questioned the quality of the international rating agencies and audit companies, which regularly issued reports praising the "successful and efficient" work of the banks.

Zakharova said the US financial system is holding together thanks to the dollar, which is printed to compensate for all arising problems, but the system started glitching.

"The question is how many more banks with so-called 'impeccable reputations' confirmed by all those financial institutions are in the US," she said.

Regarding the incident with the US drone in the Black Sea, Zakharova said Moscow believes it is important to keep the lines of communication open.

On demands of the Baltic States and Poland to decrease the West's price cap imposed on Russian oil, Zakharova said that such actions would cause more problems in global energy markets and lead to their destabilization and the destruction of the "remnants" of international trade rules.

Source: Anadolu Agency