On 26 and 27 September, four explosions in Danish and Swedish waters destroyed parts of the Nord Stream gas pipelines. According to Der Spiegel, neither the German government, the EU or NATO have any doubt these explosions were the result of sabotage and not of technical failure.
The Nord Stream pipelines are in ocean depths ranging from 80 to 110 meters, and experts consulted by Asia Times believe remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROUV or ROV) may have been used to place explosives in the pipelines, and it cannot be ruled out expert divers were involved. This attempt on critical underwater infrastructure is a very serious irresponsibility and a dangerous precedent.
Who is behind this sabotage? No one has claimed responsibility, and even after the inquiries by Nord Stream AG – the owner of the pipelines in question – it will not be possible to be certain. It is not credible that any European country would risk such acts of sabotage against the two pipelines. Moreover, such a move could be considered an act of war by Russia.
For months there have been rumors that Ukraine might carry out attacks on Nord Stream 2; but they have no ROUV to do so, nor is it credible that they would do so when Germany is supporting Ukraine in the war. Since Russia had already shut off the gas in Nord Stream, and could always repeat this action in the future, there is no motivation for destroying vital infrastructure that allows it to rake in significant revenue and leeway for blackmailing the leading European power.
Biden’s ill-fated statements last February about how he would not allow Nord Stream 2 to work are now called into question. However, it is inconceivable the US government has in any way acquiesced to this sabotage.
Without Nord Stream and other pipelines from Russia – which are still intact – the European, especially German, dependence on American LNG is huge and will continue to increase (about 40% in 2030). Given that the cost of that LNG is already more than three times the price of gas in the US domestic market, it is undermining the competitiveness of European companies.
The historical backdrop for these acts of sabotage also includes ongoing negotiations regarding long-term contracts for the supply of LNG between German companies and foreign, mainly US suppliers. The German government has been complaining about the “astronomical prices” demanded by the suppliers for the LNG, claiming a lack of solidarity from the US.
Regardless of what the [lengthy] investigations will uncover (probably nothing conclusive), if German public opinion believes American interests are behind this sabotage and have somehow contributed to a brutal hike in the cost of energy in Germany, we will have what Putin’s war of aggression on Ukraine failed to achieve – a rift in the relationship of trust between the US and Germany.