The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office says it has launched international terrorism proceedings over the alleged sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines. “No later than September 26, 2022, intentional actions to damage the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines laid on the Baltic Sea floor were committed in the area of the island of Bornholm,” the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office said on Wednesday on its Telegram channel. Moscow justified the step by saying that the damage to the pipelines had “inflicted considerable economic damage on Russia”.
According to a report by the British Times, there were increasing indications that the pipeline leaks were planned detonations by the Russian side. The newspaper quotes a defense source as saying the pipeline was sabotaged “probably deliberately and deliberately” using an explosive device dropped into the sea weeks before the detonation.
A Russian underwater drone with an explosive charge is said to have been thrown into the sea weeks before the explosion. According to the report, this is the most likely scenario. Even German security authorities would assume that explosive devices were integrated into the pipelines during construction, reports the “Bild” newspaper. These were described as “switch-off devices for emergencies”. The explosives used are “probably of a military nature” and not available on the open market, estimates frigate captain Göran Swistek to “zdf.heute”.
Military researcher Kenneth Øhlenschlæger Buhl had previously considered the use of combat drones. “The most obvious way to sabotage such a line is to detonate an explosive charge attached to the pipe,” Buhl told the Danish newspaper BT. Such an assembly can be done with underwater drones: “The drones are controlled remotely and then they glide down and locate exactly where the tubes are.”
Numerous other experts are now also speaking of a well-planned sabotage. For the Danish military expert Anders Puck Nielsen, only one party is suspect: “If we look at who is actually benefiting from the circumstances that Europe’s gas markets are thrown into chaos: I think there is only one actor who is benefiting from growing uncertainty – and This is Russia.” CDU defense expert Roderich Kiesewetter told the “RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland” that Russia wanted to stir up threats and insecurity.
The stationing of a special unit directly on the Baltic Sea coast gives an indication of Russia as a possible originator. The 561st naval brigade of the Russian military intelligence service GRU is stationed in Parusnoye in the Kaliningrad enclave, report that “RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland” and the “Bild” newspaper agree. The task of the GRU is the intelligence gathering of all military-relevant information as well as counter-espionage within the Russian armed forces. The Marine Brigade is thus a specialized underwater sabotage unit. From NATO circles it is said that it would be able to approach the pipeline.
The clarification of the case could even happen quite quickly. The Baltic Sea is one of the best guarded overseas territories in the world. Ex-BND boss August Hanning is optimistic about “Bild”: “There will be recordings of surveillance, which can hardly be kept secret in the short term.” .
On Tuesday, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke of indications of “deliberate interference”, while EU Council President Charles Michel wrote of “acts of sabotage”. Swedish seismologists also registered two explosions on the seabed.
So what could be the reason for the leaks in the gas-filled pipelines? Anders Puck Nielsen, advisor to the Royal Danish Defense College in Copenhagen, spoke in the newspaper “The Sun” of a “conspicuous” time of the alleged attack. At the same time, a gas pipeline between Norway and Poland was inaugurated to end dependence on Russia.
According to Puck Nielsen, sabotage is “technically not difficult. All it takes is a boat and a few divers who know how to handle explosive devices.” Nevertheless, the operation should have been carried out with, for example, camouflaged merchant ships passing the site. Another indication that it could be a government order. The British Guardian concludes that the use of submarines would have been quickly noticed at a water depth of 100 meters.
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Buhl also speaks of a well-planned act of sabotage: “Someone knew exactly where these gas lines were located.” With a civilian ship, such an operation “can be carried out easily in the middle of the night without arousing suspicion.”
However, the situation is not that clear: since the leak became known, a so-called “false flag operation” by Ukraine has been discussed in addition to Russian participation in order to further discredit Russia and end dependence on Russian gas. Radical activists could also be responsible for the alleged attack.
Although the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines are currently not in operation, they are filled with gas. Images and videos from the Danish military show a large carpet of bubbles on the surface of the Baltic Sea. According to environmentalists, this is not dangerous. Nevertheless, uncontrolled methane emissions pose a threat to the climate. The places were cordoned off to shipping. The Danish authorities assumed on Wednesday afternoon that half of the gas had already escaped from the pipes. The lines will be empty by Sunday, according to the Danish Energy Agency. Perhaps by then more will be known about the cause of the gas leaks.
More on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 leaks:
The Swedish Coast Guard announced on Thursday morning that a fourth leak in the Nord Stream pipelines had been discovered. The first three were found on Monday, and international observers suspect sabotage.
The pressure in Nord Stream 2 first dropped on Monday night, and later also in Nord Stream 1. The reason: there are leaks in both gas pipelines. But it will be a while before these can be examined. What we know so far about the events and what is still under investigation