In recent hours, the existence of leaks in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines, which run along the bottom of the Baltic Sea between Russia and Germany, have been known.
There are four leaks in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines
So far, two leaks have been detected in the Danish part and another two in the Swedish part (although the leaks are in international waters, they have occurred in the exclusive economic zones of both countries). According to the Swedish Seismological Institute (SNSN), the leaks are They were produced by two explosions that occurred at 02:03 and 19:04 CET on Monday. The first of the explosions affected Nord Stream 2 southeast of the island of Bornholm (Denmark) and the second caused three leaks in Nord Stream 1, northeast of that island, according to the Swedish Coast Guard.
Germany, Poland, NATO, the EU and the US talk about sabotage
This Monday, the German government was the first to point to possible sabotage, a possibility that has also been pointed out by the Prime Minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki, as well as the NATO, the European Union and United States. Given the information that indicates a possible Russian authorship of this sabotage, Russia was quick to insinuate that it was the US, but the Kremlin's record of lies in recent months means that any information coming from Moscow does not deserve to be considered as true.
Russia cut off supply on the Nord Stream 1 a few weeks ago
Those gas pipelines have been a very controversial project since its inception. Both were promoted by the governments of Germany and Russia, and provoked protests in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, considering that in this way Germany left them at the feet of Russia in case Putin wanted subjecting them to blackmail with the gas supply. The Nord Stream 1 has been in operation since October 2012, but supply through it was shut down by Russia on September 2 claiming that the main gas turbine at the Portovaya compressor station near St. Petersburg was leaking engine oil. The European Union accused Russia of "cynicism" and of using "false pretexts" to justify this supply cut, pointing to possible political reasons of the Kremlin to cut off supplies.
The Nord Stream 2 did not enter service due to the invasion of Ukraine
As for Nord Stream 2, it was not yet operational. Two days before the Russian invasion of Ukraine and after Putin's invasion order against that country (announced on February 21), Germany suspended the certification process for Nord Stream 2 on February 22. Due to European sanctions against Russia due to the invasion of Ukraine, it seemed unlikely that this gas pipeline would come into operation. This Wednesday, the German government declared this gas pipeline lost due to the damage suffered as a result of this sabotage.
The motives that Russia could have: a revenge operation?
All kinds of theories are circulating about what happened with these gas pipelines. Some allege the fact that they were promoted by Germany and Russia as an argument to reject a possible Russian sabotage. What interest could Russia have in disabling its own gas pipeline and ending the options of using it again? Well, right from the start, Putin could have ordered that attack as revenge for the European sanctions against Russia because of the war in Ukraine. That Russia cut off the supply through Nord Stream 1 a few weeks ago could now be interpreted as a preparation for that attack.
The idea of a Russian revenge gains strength by the ecological disaster caused by sabotage in waters near Denmark and Sweden. Let us also remember that Sweden is in the process of joining NATO. Let us remember that on February 25, Russia threatened Sweden and Finland with "serious military consequences" if they joined the Atlantic Alliance.
And what interest could Russia have in harming Denmark? For starters, that Nordic country is a member of NATO. Additionally, Denmark has provided significant military aid to Ukraine, with 2,700 anti-tank missiles, 54 armored M-113 and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
The coincidence of the sabotage with the inauguration of the Baltic Pipe
On the other hand, there has been a curious coincidence. The sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines occurred a few hours before the inauguration of a new gas pipeline linking Poland and Denmark with Norway. This gas pipeline, known as Baltic Pipe, began construction in 2016 and will allow Poland not to depend on Russian gas. With his inauguration, Putin loses all options to blackmail Poland with gas supplies. One more reason to carry out a revenge operation, precisely against Denmark, one of the promoters of the Baltic Pipe.
The means that the Russian Navy has to carry out this sabotage
To Russia's motivations for committing sabotage of this type, it should be added that the Russians have the means to carry it out. On Tuesday, naval affairs expert H.I. Sutton posted an analysis of the Russian Navy's underwater assets, ruling out the possibility that submarines were used (explain in each case the reasons for discarding them), and pointing another possibility: "Russia does however have autonomous underwater vehicles. A new center for their development is in St. Petersburg. Some of these might be suitable. But they would need a host ship of some sort.", as the range of such vehicles is more limited than that of a conventional submarine.
Russian ships and submarines were detected in the area of the explosions
In line with what was pointed out by H.I. Sutton, CNN today reveals that European security officials observed on Monday and Tuesday Russian Navy support ships in the vicinity of leaks in the Nord Stream gas pipelines. The US media cites two Western intelligence officials and another source familiar with the matter as sources of the information, adding that Russian submarines were also observed not far from those areas last week. This is not the first time that the presence of Russian warships has been detected in the area: on June 17, a Russian Navy vessel violated the territorial waters of Denmark. Coincidentally, this incursion occurred north of the island of Bornholm, in the vicinity of which the acts of sabotage that caused these four leaks in the Nord Stream gas pipelines took place.
The CIA alerted Germany to the possibility of such an attack.
On the other hand, one wonders if Western intelligence agencies had indications that something like this could happen, since the fact that sabotage of this type occurs without being noticed would be a serious setback for those services. Intelligence. That question was answered this Wednesday: the German newspaper Der Spiegel revealed that the CIA warned the German government against a possible attack on Baltic Sea pipelines. The obvious question now is: what would be the point of the US intelligence agency warning of such a possible attack if the US intended to carry it out, as Russia claims?
The precedent of the explosion of a gas pipeline in Turkmenistan
+ UPDATED 8:27 p.m.: The Spanish journalist Javier Cuesta, resident in Russia, has indicated this afternoon: "Explosive gas pipelines are not new. In 2009 Turkmenistan accused Russia of blowing up theirs with a sudden vacuum of gas", and he adds: "It was when the EU launched the Third Energy Package and Russia stopped being interested in selling gas brought from Central Asia." Cuesta links a Reuters news item from April 2009 about those events.
Main photo: Danish Ministry of Defense. Image taken on September 27, 2022 of the leak in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, photographed from a Danish Air Force F-16 fighter.
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