…and Just Like That, the Nord Stream Pipelines Went Kaboom!

 

Last night, the twin pipelines supplying Russian natural gas to Germany blew up.  Specifically, they were both breached below the surface of the Baltic Sea, near Danish and Swedish territorial waters.  Almost certainly sabotage, based both on the time coincidence, and a Swedish seismologist’s estimate that at least 100kg of explosive was used.

This sabotage was not a trivial exercise.  It would presumably require a ROV, large underwater drone and/or a submarine to place the charges accurately.  There’s a limited supply of such equipment and expertise. And it would likely require a large enough team that it will eventually leak, even if there’s no obvious forensic information to be gathered.

Qui bono?  Certainly Ukraine. Russia’s ability to use energy blackmail against Germany in particular and Europe in general has been eliminated at a stroke. But they are notably short of a navy and the required equipment and experts.

By the same token, unlikely to be official Russian actions. Putin’s ability to turn the tap on and off at will was just eliminated.  Much is being made by the fact that it happened the same day a new gas pipeline from Scandinavia to the mainland was opened, but you don’t generally threaten your enemy’s asset by destroying your own.

But Russia does have the necessary equipment and expertise, so there’s a chance that a military faction that wants to get rid of Putin but has no way to directly confront him would comprise his negotiating position in a reversible fashion (pipelines can be repaired).

After that, the circle gets pretty wide. The US certainly has the required abilities, as likely do the UK, France, and a few others.  Any pipeline or marine salvage company probably also could pull it off in a pinch, but keeping that secret would be hard, I’d think.

So the strategic background to Ukraine vs. Russia just shifted dramatically, and we don’t yet know who or why.

Published in Foreign Policy
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  1. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    I am so-o-o waiting for more on this.

    Back in the 1990’s INSG (Int’l Naval Studies Group, a self-appointed community) evaluated claims that the Soviets had conducted sabotage of Swedish undersea infrastructure.  The evidence involved tracks on the seabed floor and so forth, timing, assets in area, behavior of surface units at the time.  IIRC, the verdict was that the Soviets had the motive, means, and opportunity, and that it was *likely* a Soviet job.

    Thirty years forward, Hell, who doesn’t have the means now?  Drop a bottom-crawling drone south of the thing and tell it to make its way north until it detects a large mass of steel, then detonate.

    • #1
  2. Chris O Coolidge
    Chris O
    @ChrisO

    I’ll go with not Germany. They have people protesting to end Russian sanctions. Zero gain for them, and actually puts them in a tighter spot.

    Biden said he’d do it, but he’s just an old coot.

    And on a special note, the leaks are actually outside territorial waters, one just barely.

    • #2
  3. EJHill+ Podcaster
    EJHill+
    @EJHill

    I don’t understand the point of this. Are we to assume the US sabotaged a pipeline so that it could not carry gas that Putin is not putting into the pipeline and that he’s already not selling to Western Europe?

    • #3
  4. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    Yeah, I didn’t want to put it into the main post, but the Swedes and Norwegians had issues with encroaching Soviet/Russian subs for years and IIRC at one point had one cornered but decided not to finally sink it.  Russia certainly has the gear but the motivation seems backwards. For that matter, the Scandinavians almost certainly have the where with all, and also motivation: Competition eliminated!  

    Rumor mongers and sensationalists are going to have lots of fun with this. Such a fascinating combination of motives and opportunity!

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Well, it certainly does draw attention to the war!

    • #5
  6. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    Chris O (View Comment):
    And on a special note, the leaks are actually outside territorial waters, one just barely.

    Updated accordingly.

    • #6
  7. DrewInWisconsin, Oik Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oik
    @DrewInWisconsin

    EJHill+ (View Comment):

    I don’t understand the point of this. Are we to assume the US sabotaged a pipeline so that it could not carry gas that Putin is not putting into the pipeline and that he’s already not selling to Western Europe?

    Yeah, . . . this was my first thought. Not that the U.S. was behind it, but why take out a pipeline that is already shut down by Russia in an attempt to freeze out Europe?

    To make sure it’s harder for it to go back online?

    The only people who would really benefit from this is Ukraine, whose revenue stream was threatened by the existence of the pipeline before the war escalated. One major controversy over Nordstream 1 and 2 was that it gave Russia the ability to bypass Ukraine, and therefore no longer pay them for transporting gas through their territory. Trump opposed it, thus aiding Ukraine. Biden approved it, thus screwing Ukraine.

    • #7
  8. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    It could be NATO or the German government, burning the ships so to speak.

    It could be Russia for the same purpose.

    • #8
  9. Chris O Coolidge
    Chris O
    @ChrisO

    Locke On (View Comment):

    Chris O (View Comment):
    And on a special note, the leaks are actually outside territorial waters, one just barely.

    Updated accordingly.

    There is some speculation that leak could get big enough to cross into Danish territory. I know, I know, staring at the trees and not taking in the forest.

    • #9
  10. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Radio Free Europe has an interesting story:

    Swedish police say they have launched a preliminary investigation into possible sabotage related to leaks in the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea after seismologists from Sweden and Denmark said they had recorded powerful explosions in areas near where evidence of leaks had been found.

    A national police spokesperson on September 27 said that Swedish police had “established a report and the crime classification is gross sabotage.”

    Bjorn Lund, a seismologist at Sweden’s National Seismology Centre (SNSN), said earlier that there was no doubt that explosions were related to the seismic activity.

    His comments came on the heels of news from the German geological research center GFZ that after it had recorded near silence, as usual, until 0003 GMT on September 26, when there was a spike representing a tremor in the Earth followed by a continuous hissing waveform. The pattern repeated itself at 1700 GMT.

    Moscow reduced the gas flow to Europe through Nord Stream 1 before suspending it completely in August, claiming that Western sanctions had caused technical difficulties.

    The new Nord Stream 2 pipeline was recently completed, but Germany scrapped plans to import gas through it just days before Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

    However, both pipelines still contain gas under pressure.

    Nord Stream AG, which operates the pipelines, said on September 27 that three offshore lines of the Nord Stream gas pipeline system have sustained what it called “unprecedented” damage in one day, adding that it was impossible to say when the gas network system’s working capability would be restored.

    The Ukrainian Navy does not have direct access to the Baltic Sea, Russia does.

     

    • #10
  11. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Radio Free Europe has an interesting story:

    Swedish police say they have launched a preliminary investigation into possible sabotage related to leaks in the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea after seismologists from Sweden and Denmark said they had recorded powerful explosions in areas near where evidence of leaks had been found.

    A national police spokesperson on September 27 said that Swedish police had “established a report and the crime classification is gross sabotage.”

    Bjorn Lund, a seismologist at Sweden’s National Seismology Centre (SNSN), said earlier that there was no doubt that explosions were related to the seismic activity.

    His comments came on the heels of news from the German geological research center GFZ that after it had recorded near silence, as usual, until 0003 GMT on September 26, when there was a spike representing a tremor in the Earth followed by a continuous hissing waveform. The pattern repeated itself at 1700 GMT.

    Moscow reduced the gas flow to Europe through Nord Stream 1 before suspending it completely in August, claiming that Western sanctions had caused technical difficulties.

    The new Nord Stream 2 pipeline was recently completed, but Germany scrapped plans to import gas through it just days before Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

    However, both pipelines still contain gas under pressure.

    Nord Stream AG, which operates the pipelines, said on September 27 that three offshore lines of the Nord Stream gas pipeline system have sustained what it called “unprecedented” damage in one day, adding that it was impossible to say when the gas network system’s working capability would be restored.

    The Ukrainian Navy does not have direct access to the Baltic Sea, Russia does.

     

    Well, anybody can kick a bomb drone off the transom.

    • #11
  12. DonG (CAGW is a Scam) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a Scam)
    @DonG

    China could pull this off.  It would benefit them as it makes Russia dependent on China for energy sales.  Texas also benefits, but I don’t believe that Texas has the capability to pull off an undersea mission in Europe.   But, the pipeline can be fixed fairly quickly, so who benefits in the short-term?   Who benefits from Germany being unable to negotiate with Russia? 

    • #12
  13. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    EJHill+ (View Comment):

    I don’t understand the point of this. Are we to assume the US sabotaged a pipeline so that it could not carry gas that Putin is not putting into the pipeline and that he’s already not selling to Western Europe?

    Or was it that Germany had opened a secret back channel to settle things and the other Nato members didn’t like it? Considering the level of surveillance the NSA/CIA conduct on the German government, you’d think the Prime Minister was named Trump. 

    • #13
  14. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Well, who’s been setting fire to the world’s oil refineries?  I don’t know but I would imagine they’re the same people who benefit from blowing up the pipeline.  By the way, they’re pro-Ukraine, and this does benefit Ukraine, too.  So, a win-win.

    • #14
  15. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    DonG (CAGW is a Scam) (View Comment):

    China could pull this off. It would benefit them as it makes Russia dependent on China for energy sales. Texas also benefits, but I don’t believe that Texas has the capability to pull off an undersea mission in Europe. But, the pipeline can be fixed fairly quickly, so who benefits in the short-term? Who benefits from Germany being unable to negotiate with Russia?

    So Texas has a Navy now? Or Navy Seal type underwater drones? Those guys can do anything. 

    • #15
  16. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    DonG (CAGW is a Scam) (View Comment):
    Who benefits from Germany being unable to negotiate with Russia? 

    Germany.

    • #16
  17. DrewInWisconsin, Oik Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oik
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Flicker (View Comment):
    Well, who’s been setting fire to the world’s oil refineries?

    This occurred to me, too.

    Someone out there is doing all they can to make sure we starve and freeze this winter.

    • #17
  18. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    navyjag (View Comment):

    DonG (CAGW is a Scam) (View Comment):

    China could pull this off. It would benefit them as it makes Russia dependent on China for energy sales. Texas also benefits, but I don’t believe that Texas has the capability to pull off an undersea mission in Europe. But, the pipeline can be fixed fairly quickly, so who benefits in the short-term? Who benefits from Germany being unable to negotiate with Russia?

    So Texas has a Navy now? Or Navy Seal type underwater drones? Those guys can do anything.

    They don’t have the City of Corpus Christi anymore.

    • #18
  19. DrewInWisconsin, Oik Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oik
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Polish MP thanking the US.

    Wut?

    • #19
  20. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):
    Well, who’s been setting fire to the world’s oil refineries?

    This occurred to me, too.

    Someone out there is doing all they can to make sure we starve and freeze this winter.

    Good likeness, too.

    • #20
  21. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    Polish MP thanking the US.

     

    Wut?

    Bwahaha!  That’s awesome.

    • #21
  22. Retail Lawyer Member
    Retail Lawyer
    @RetailLawyer

    Extinction Rebellion?  Greenpeace?  Antifa?  The DNC?  Various North American based pipeline saboteurs? 

    • #22
  23. mildlyo Member
    mildlyo
    @mildlyo

    Without facts, I’m inclined to suspect CIA. The combo of budget and idiocy is telling. 

    • #23
  24. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    mildlyo (View Comment):

    Without facts, I’m inclined to suspect CIA. The combo of budget and idiocy is telling.

    Biden did say unequivocally that he would stop the Nordstrom pipeline.  And he says that we will stay in and support Ukraine come what may.  And the CIA is the right hand of the globalists who have to have Ukraine win so that Russia loses.  So, yeah, probably the CIA.

    • #24
  25. DrewInWisconsin, Oik Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oik
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Flicker (View Comment):

    mildlyo (View Comment):

    Without facts, I’m inclined to suspect CIA. The combo of budget and idiocy is telling.

    Biden did say unequivocally that he would stop the Nordstrom pipeline.

    Biden also approved it. Biden is not in charge.

    And he says that we will stay in and support Ukraine come what may. And the CIA is the right hand of the globalists who have to have Ukraine win so that Russia loses. So, yeah, probably the CIA.

    I don’t know what to believe from these foul evildoers anymore.

    • #25
  26. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    mildlyo (View Comment):

    Without facts, I’m inclined to suspect CIA. The combo of budget and idiocy is telling.

    Biden did say unequivocally that he would stop the Nordstrom pipeline.

    Biden also approved it. Biden is not in charge.

    And he says that we will stay in and support Ukraine come what may. And the CIA is the right hand of the globalists who have to have Ukraine win so that Russia loses. So, yeah, probably the CIA.

    I don’t know what to believe from these foul evildoers anymore.

    Well, Germany didn’t do it, and Russia didn’t do it.  I doubt that Saudi or India did it.  China?  Or the US?  What would China’s motive be?

    • #26
  27. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Flicker (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    mildlyo (View Comment):

    Without facts, I’m inclined to suspect CIA. The combo of budget and idiocy is telling.

    Biden did say unequivocally that he would stop the Nordstrom pipeline.

    Biden also approved it. Biden is not in charge.

    And he says that we will stay in and support Ukraine come what may. And the CIA is the right hand of the globalists who have to have Ukraine win so that Russia loses. So, yeah, probably the CIA.

    I don’t know what to believe from these foul evildoers anymore.

    Well, Germany didn’t do it, and Russia didn’t do it. I doubt that Saudi or India did it. China? Or the US? What would China’s motive be?

    ALIENS

    • #27
  28. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    BDB (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    mildlyo (View Comment):

    Without facts, I’m inclined to suspect CIA. The combo of budget and idiocy is telling.

    Biden did say unequivocally that he would stop the Nordstrom pipeline.

    Biden also approved it. Biden is not in charge.

    And he says that we will stay in and support Ukraine come what may. And the CIA is the right hand of the globalists who have to have Ukraine win so that Russia loses. So, yeah, probably the CIA.

    I don’t know what to believe from these foul evildoers anymore.

    Well, Germany didn’t do it, and Russia didn’t do it. I doubt that Saudi or India did it. China? Or the US? What would China’s motive be?

    ALIENS

    The only logical answer. 

    • #28
  29. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    Flicker (View Comment):

    mildlyo (View Comment):

    Without facts, I’m inclined to suspect CIA. The combo of budget and idiocy is telling.

    Biden did say unequivocally that he would stop the Nordstrom pipeline. And he says that we will stay in and support Ukraine come what may. And the CIA is the right hand of the globalists who have to have Ukraine win so that Russia loses. So, yeah, probably the CIA.

    Warned Germany or threatened?

    • #29
  30. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    BDB (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    mildlyo (View Comment):

    Without facts, I’m inclined to suspect CIA. The combo of budget and idiocy is telling.

    Biden did say unequivocally that he would stop the Nordstrom pipeline.

    Biden also approved it. Biden is not in charge.

    And he says that we will stay in and support Ukraine come what may. And the CIA is the right hand of the globalists who have to have Ukraine win so that Russia loses. So, yeah, probably the CIA.

    I don’t know what to believe from these foul evildoers anymore.

    Well, Germany didn’t do it, and Russia didn’t do it. I doubt that Saudi or India did it. China? Or the US? What would China’s motive be?

    ALIENS

    Illegal or green?

    • #30
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