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Nordstream pipeline likely sabotaged

The politically motivated sabotage behind the apparently serious and wanton damage to the gas pipelines Nordstream 1 and Nordstream 2 were likely ordered by a technically and militarily highly developed state. The aim of this crime, a very large-scale crime, could only have been to destroy any hope of further gas deliveries from Russia to Germany.

Published: September 28, 2022, 10:15 am

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    Who could be the perpetrator of this act of state terrorism?

    The US has a strong motive and all the means to shut down the pipelines. A very strong indication is the declaration by President Biden at the beginning of February that the US would never allow Nordstream 2 to go into operation.

    Russia had little motive to blow up its own infrastructure. If it had wanted to stop gas deliveries it could easily just have turned off the flow.

    “Thank you USA,” Polish MEP Radek Sikorski tweeted on Tuesday. He added that the damage to Nordstream meant that Russia would have to “talk to the countries controlling the Brotherhood and Yamal gas pipelines, Ukraine and Poland” if it wishes to continue delivering gas to Europe. “Good work,” he concluded. Sikorsky is married to US neocon Anne Applebaum.

    Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova expressed surprise at what amounted to an “official statement that this was a terrorist attack”, while Moscow’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, thanked Sikorski for “making it crystal clear who stands behind this terrorist-style targeting of civilian infrastructure!”

    Sabotaging gas pipelines is essentially committing a terrorist act against European civilians with the clear intention of forcing them to buy only the gas that is approved by the Biden administration.

    Germany must find the culprit

    It remains the duty and obligation of the German government and authorities to find the guilty party and to make them liable for the damage. Since the government itself could be under suspicion, it should launch a politically independent investigation. The pipelines are multi-billion dollar facilities funded by German taxpayers. The Germans have a right to the truth and punishment of the perpetrators.

    The sabotage comes in the wake of thousands of Germans protesting against their government’s sanctions policy and the huge spike in energy prices, particularly gas prices. The protesters had also demanded an end to sanctions on Russia and called for the operational restart of Nordstream 2.

    Evidence of the sabotage was seen as gas bubbled into the Baltic near the Danish island of Bornholm. Nordstream 1 was damaged due to explosions in two different places, one in the Swedish economic zone and one in the Danish economic zone. Danish air force aircraft have confirmed leakages on Nordstream 2.

    The news will not contribute to easing a severe energy crisis facing Europe, owing to the conflict in Ukraine and also the dire repercussions of anti-Russian sanctions imposed by the EU.

    Both pipelines are operated by a consortium majority-owned by Russian gas giant Gazprom. Neither of the two damaged pipelines were in service, although filled with gas. Operation of the first was suspended last month by Gazprom, citing maintenance and safety issues. Nordstream 2 had been in service since 2011.

    The explosions mean huge economic losses for those who invested in these projects – Gazprom, the German energy companies Wintershall Dea AG and PEGI/E.ON, the Dutch infrastructure company N.V. Nederlandse Gasunie, leading French energy company ENGIE.

    NATO’s 2022 exercises focused on mining capabilities

    The approximate locations of the leaks in the Bornholm Basin area (mean depth of 43m), is shallow enough for specialised diving operations as well as the use of Remotely Operated Vehicles, (as was the case for the construction of both pipelines).

    The “significant focus” of NATO’s BALTOPS each year is the demonstration of its mining capabilities. This year, the US Navy had tested its emerging technology, US Naval Forces Europe-Africa Public Affairs announced on June 14.

    The US Navy’s 6th Fleet partnered with its research and warfare centers “to bring the latest advancements” in unmanned underwater vehicle mining technology to the Baltic Sea “to demonstrate the vehicle’s effectiveness in operational scenarios”.

    “Experimentation was conducted off the coast of Bornholm, Denmark, with participants from Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific, Naval Undersea Warfare Center Newport, and Mine Warfare Readiness and Effectiveness Measuring all under the direction of US 6th Fleet Task Force 68,” it was reported.

    Baltic Sea states’ navies have routinely inspected the area in order to clear mines and ordnance to ensure safety, especially in the vicinity of maritime infrastructure. “Engineering analysis based on the effects of underwater explosion has shown that a mine free ‘security corridor’ 25 metres either side of the pipeline is required to ensure its integrity,” Nordstream 1 noted in a press release.

    The culprit may not be able to hide

    Russia has built passive ASS (autonomous seabed stations) to detect surface and submarine acoustic signatures and record and catalogue them for reference.

    “When in place on the seabed, the ASS deploys fixed multi-element and hose-type sonar antennas that are many meters long. These stations can conduct passive sonar exploration by simply listening to what is happening around them, to try to detect noise components and mechanisms of ships and aircraft. The ASS can also emit a special active beep, which detects and classifies surface and underwater targets.”

    Acoustic signature identification is sophisticated and reliable for identifying what type of vessel (surface or submarine) is operating within the sensor range and Russia has been capturing and classifying US-NATO ships and submarines operating in the Baltic Sea for a number of years.

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