Yesterday evening, pressure in the undersea Nord Stream 2 pipeline suddenly collapsed, and gas could be seen bubbling to the surface of the Baltic Sea near the Danish island of Bornholm. Shortly afterwards, reports came of a total collapse in the pressure of our other major undersea pipeline connection to Russia, Nord Stream 1, indicating a further rupture.
Due to the timing, the fact that three separate pipelines were affected1, and the severe pressure losses in Nord Stream 1, officials expect the worst. “We can no longer imagine any scenario other than a targeted attack,” said a person privy to the assessment by the federal government and federal authorities. They added: “Everything speaks against a coincidence.”
Such an attack on the seabed would be anything but trivial; it would have to be carried out with special forces – for example, by navy divers or a submarine, people informed of initial assessments said.
With regard to responsibility for the alleged attacks, two possibilities are being discussed. First, according to initial speculation, Ukrainian or Ukrainian-affiliated forces could be responsible. With the temporary shutdown of the Nord Stream pipelines, gas deliveries from Russia to Germany and Central Europe would only be possible via the Yamal pipelinje running through Poland or the Ukrainian pipeline network.
The piece that I’ve bolded is of course a lightly disguised reference to the United States or NATO. This should surprise nobody: President Biden said in early February that in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, “there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2, we will bring an end to it.” It’s well within the realm of possibility that such an attack would’ve been carried out with the tacit approval (or even upon the request) of the Scholz government, to relieve them of political pressure to open Nord Stream 2 or seek terms for a restoration of supply to Nord Stream 1 as the economy continues to circle the drain. The Greens are in government here, and Green-adjacent journalists have gone so far as to demand the dismantling of the pipelines to hurt Putin, so this too is far from crazy.
The second scenario investigators are contemplating, according to the linked Tagesspiegel report, is of course a “‘false flag’ operation by Russia,” carried out to “drive up the price of gas,” “exacerbate the European energy crisis” and “fuel additional uncertainty.” Russia will surely be blamed for the attack as soon as it is confirmed, I have no doubt of that.
The pipeline attacks come as a few prominent German politicians have demanded the opening of Nord Stream 2, and the subject has attracted a growing protest movement. Neither pipeline was currently transporting gas; Gazprom cut off supply to Nord Stream 1 at the end of August, citing maintenance issues exacerbated by EU sanctions, while the Scholz government refused to certify Nord Stream 2 following its completion in November 2021.
UPDATES: Gonzalo Lira argues that the Americans have declared war on Europe; Noah Carl draws attention to an older piece he wrote on the “Nord Stream 2 theory” of the Ukraine war; hints of a possible method and an earlier, aborted attack on the pipeline are found in these stories about an underwater drone armed with explosives recovered near the pipeline construction site in 2015. Two Nord Stream 1 leaks have now been identified; like the Nord Stream 2 rupture, they’re near Bornholm.
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