The Nord Stream Explosions: War Of Controversies – OpEd


September 26, 2022 saw a series of explosions on the Nord Streams pipelines and subsequent gas leaks on both the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2, which were built to transport natural gas from Russia to Germany.

Both pipelines are majority owned by the Russian gas company, Gazprom and German private companies. The leaks are believed to have been caused by intentional sabotage; however, the identities and the motives behind such intentional sabotage remain a mystery. 

German Report blames Russia

Now a German report claims a possible Russian hand behind the September 26, 2022, Nord Stream gas pipeline attack, based on the Russian Navy’s exercise in the Baltic Sea a week before the explosion. The report bases its claims on drills involving naval Special Forces, combat swimmers, mini-submarines, tender ships with cranes to lift them, a smaller ‘spy’ vessel, and a communications ship. Their involvement, meanwhile, has been claimed on the basis of one of their Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) being switched off and other suspicious movements based on satellite imagery. This is according to a German online publication that perused OSINT and satellite imagery of Russian naval maneuvers to draw these inferences. (The EurAsian Times 27 March, 2023)

Seymour Hersh blames US Navy

On February 8, 2023 Seymour Hersh, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, alleged that US Navy deep-sea divers planted high-powered C4 explosives under the gas pipelines under cover of NATO naval exercises in June 2022. The Norwegian military then activated the explosives remotely upon receiving an order from the White House. But why should have Norway obliged and why should have the US got Norway involved in such a secret sinister mission? Norwegian involvement is difficult to be believed to be true!

Gregory Simons, an associate professor at the Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Uppsala University, Sweden tells TRT World; “If one does a cost-benefit analysis as to who benefits, there is only one clear beneficiary ‘The US’.”

No evidence of a Russian hand in the Explosions

Prior to the Hersh report, (Washington Post, Dec 21, 2022), there was “No evidence of a Russian hand in the explosions.” The culprit behind the attacks on Nord Stream 2 initially has been widely speculated, by the Western sources near unanimously blaming Russia.

Sabotage an Economic Warfare

Andrej Hunko, member of the German Bundestag and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, said that the sabotage is a kind of Economic Warfare, not only against Germany but also the EU, in an interview with Global Times. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline would have brought cheap natural gas from Russia to Germany. Because of the sabotage, there is now no way to use in the distant future. Before, it was a decision under political pressure whether to use Russian gas or not. On the other hand, Germany now receives liquefied natural gas from the US, which is by far more expensive and worse from an ecological point of view. Dependence on Russian gas has now turned into a dependence on US gas. Hunko: “It is a kind of Economic War not only against Germany, but also against the EU”. It is a kind of economic competition between the US, Germany and Europe.

“There will be no longer Nord Stream 2”, President Biden said at a joint press conference along with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Feb 2022; “Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia  to Germany will not go forward if Russia invades Ukraine…then there will be no longer Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it…I promise you… we will be able to do that.”

US Historically Against the Russian Gas for Europe

The Ukrainian crisis is less about Ukraine, but more about gas supply. Nord Stream 2 was almost fully-operational ready to pump and Germany would have got a reliable source of gas energy and Russia would have got a boost to their gas revenues. This win-win situation for both parties was not liked by the US Foreign Policy establishment. This is why the Biden administration opposed Nord Stream as it would have brought Europe and Asia closer while leaving the US out on the limb both politically and economically resulting in slowly losing its hold on NATO. 

The US has historically seen the Nord Stream pipeline as an extension of Russian influence over Europe through Germany. In 2014, Condoleezza Rice, the former US secretary of state, openly stated the US sought to reduce Europe’s dependency on Russian energy platforms and increase their dependency on American ones. 

Russia had Little to Gain from Destroying the Pipelines

The construction of Nord Stream 2 was a joint venture by the German participation with Russia and its reassurances about the project being independent of geopolitical issues. Russia, however, reasons that instances of stopping gas supplies are motivated by the sanctions on its energy sector, the freezing of its dollar assets, and consequently, and the rejection of its demand to settle commercial and trade payments in rubles. 

The identities and the motives behind such an intentional sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines remain a mystery so far with claims and counter claim theories creating confused controversies. It is important to have a critical view and to get to the bottom of the truth by having a UN team of representatives of experts from the parties having stakes in the Nord Stream project. The joint Russia-German project would have benefitted Europe, and Germany in particular. Larger geopolitical issues appear to have been at play for the players who executed the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines to render the project dysfunctional to supply and pump gas.

Patial RC

Patial RC is a retired Infantry officer of the Indian Army and possesses unique experience of serving in active CI Ops across the country and in Sri Lanka. Patial RC is a regular writer on military and travel matters in military professional journals. The veteran is a keen mountaineer and a trekker.

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