Gas is escaping from the Nord Stream 1 and 2 leaks. Western countries are certain that this is deliberate sabotage. Military experts suspect a Russian factory. Did Putin submerge the 561st Marine Brigade to the tubes?

There are already four leaks in the two Nord Stream pipelines, from which huge amounts of methane are escaping off the Danish Baltic Sea island of Bornholm. It’s not just environmentalists who are outraged. Panic also reigned on the gas markets, at least for a short time.

It is likely that this is sabotage. Leading Western politicians and experts categorically rule out natural causes and, like the EU, assume a “deliberate act” or, like Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, even an “act of terrorism”.

But who could be capable of such a surgically precise attack at a depth of around 80 meters with an estimated 100 kilograms of TNT? One suspicion: the 561st Naval Brigade of the Russian Army, which is assigned to the GRU military intelligence service.

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The diver and combat swimmer unit is stationed in Parusnoye, a town about 30 kilometers west of Kaliningrad, the former Königsberg, directly on the Baltic Sea. Their equipment is said to include mini submarines and underwater drones, i.e. precisely those instruments from the military cutlery box with which explosives could be placed precisely under water. Apparently only the gas pipelines were damaged, but not the telecommunications cables in the immediate vicinity.

The former President of the Federal Intelligence Service (BND), Gerhard Schindler, said to the “Welt”: “An unnoticed, conspiratorial damage to pipelines at a depth of 80 meters in the Baltic Sea requires sophisticated technical and organizational skills that clearly indicate a state actor.” Only Russia can actually be considered for this, especially since it has the most advantages from this act of sabotage.

As the “Times” reports, British government circles are also suspecting that Russia has sent an autonomous underwater vehicle with explosive devices on board towards the pipelines, possibly months ago. The command to detonate was presumably given by using a noise source with a specific frequency. In any case, a work by professionals.

“Frogmen” are considered the elite troops of the maritime branches worldwide. Navy Seals in the USA, combat swimmers in the Bundeswehr and also the 561st Russian Navy Brigade. What they all have in common is the tough selection process that applicants have to go through – and that not much gets out there.

So it is with the 561st Marine Brigade. At least in part, the mysterious unit is said to be subordinate to the GRU. In addition to intelligence reconnaissance, the Russian military intelligence service’s areas of responsibility include hybrid warfare, disinformation and sabotage. Since the operator is responsible for the protection and operational safety of the pipelines – in the case of Nord Stream 1 and 2 with Gazprom, a Russian state-owned company – it is assumed that the GRU is also involved in the pipe monitoring and therefore has detailed knowledge.

Russian combat swimmers were already active in World War II. In particular, they should protect Leningrad, today’s St. Petersburg, and the Baltic Fleet from attacks on the water, writes the “Welt”. Today, one of their main tasks is to prevent sabotage – at least in peacetime. However, if there is a war, their orders are: carry out attacks and sabotage behind enemy sea lines.

As the “Welt” further reports, combat swimmer units were involved, for example, in the destruction of torpedo and missile boats in the port of Poti during the Georgian war in 2008 and in the military conflict with Ukraine: In the spring of 2014 after the conquest of Crimea. And now?

Submarine and military expert H.I. Sutton confirms that Russia has a long history of warfare at the bottom of the sea and the technology to boot. “That wouldn’t make the attack easy,” Sutton said. But real operations are rare. “There is a strong suspicion that Russia itself is the most likely player,” Sutton said.

The German security expert Johannes Peters also suspects Russia to be behind the act of sabotage and also provides possible reasons. “Obviously, it seems a bit absurd to destroy your own pipelines,” said the expert from the Institute for Security Policy at the University of Kiel on Thursday on ARD.

One reason is certainly to send a “strong signal” to Europe, especially to Germany and Poland, that the same could be done with pipelines that are much more important for our security of supply, such as the pipelines from Norway. The message read: “So don’t be so sure that you are well prepared for the winter and that you are able to offset our gas.”

Another possible reason for a Russian act of sabotage is that the Nord Stream 2 tube, which is still intact, can be used in winter to increase pressure on Germany. For example, if the domestic political pressure on the government should increase because gas prices are too high and we might not have enough gas for the winter after all. Then Russia could offer to deliver gas through the intact pipeline after all. For this, however, Germany would have to “pull out of the Western sanctions regime.”

According to the current status, there is one known leak on both Nord Stream 1 lines and two on one of the Nord Stream 2 lines. Line B is still stable, said a spokesman for Nord Stream 2 AG.

The thesis, which is also widespread and fueled by the Russian media, that the USA could have caused the leaks “to prevent Europe from finding its way back to the Russians in a cold winter,” Peters considers almost impossible.

Creating uncertainty and fomenting panic are popular and well-known techniques of Russia’s hybrid warfare. The Kremlin, meanwhile, has dismissed its role in damaging the pipelines as “stupid and absurd.” On the contrary, Moscow sees itself as a victim. The Russian authorities have opened a terrorism investigation. exit open.