Leer en Español
Between the waters of Sweden and Denmark, the sea is bubbling under the pressure unleashed by leaks in the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines, which point to a deliberate attack on European energy infrastructure by Russia.
The crack in both pipelines occurred near the Danish island of Bornholm, in the sea shared by Sweden and Denmark. Authorities have banned shipping within a five-nautical mile radius of the incident.
On Wednesday, the European Union (EU) High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, said that the evidence points to the fact that the cracks in both pipelines were the result of sabotage.
According to Borrell, “these incidents are not a coincidence and affect us all.” Normally, this type of infrastructure is designed to withstand accidents or natural phenomena, but not deliberate attacks.
Nord Stream pipeline sabotage is a threat to Europe’s energy infrastructure
“Any deliberate disruption of European energy infrastructure is utterly unacceptable and will be met with a robust and united response,” Borrell warned.
Ukraine has directly accused Russia of being responsible for the cracks, while Denmark, Sweden, and Norway have claimed that the incidents were the result of sabotage, but without directly pointing the finger at Russia.
The pressure in the tunnels has been dropping since Monday, the day the cracks apparently occurred and were detected by the Swedish coast guard and Scandinavian seismological services, which recorded an underwater explosion equivalent to a 2.3 magnitude scale earthquake.
The incident will not lead to gas shortages, as both lines are out of use; in early September Russia determined that it would keep Nord Stream 1 line closed for “maintenance work”, and Nord Stream 2 was never achieved due to Germany cancelling its license after the invasion of Ukraine.
The alleged attack represents a direct threat to the energy security of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and the Baltic countries.
According to Anders Puck Nielsen, a researcher at the Royal Danish Defense College’s Center for Maritime Operations, consulted by Al Jazeera, the leaks are “conspicuous” because they occur days before the inauguration of the Baltic Line, a gas pipeline that will connect Norway’s gas fields with northern Poland.
For Nielsen, the alleged attack could be a warning that “something could happen to Norwegian gas.”
The new package of sanctions against Russia for sabotage of Nord Stream pipelines
As a result of the attack on the Nord Stream gas pipelines, Borrell announced that sanctions will be imposed against Russia, targeting 1,300 individuals or entities, including “key decision makers, oligarchs, senior military officials and propagandists, responsible for undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity.”
Among those targeted by the EU sanctions are figures from the Russian pro-Russian government in the occupied territories of Ukraine and authorities of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk Republics.
European authorities will also announce new sanctions for people who help spread Russian propaganda or are helping to finance the Russian occupation in Ukraine.
Borrell mentioned that any “economic actor” that helps Russia to evade sanctions previously imposed by the European Union will also be subject to scrutiny by the authorities.
“Sanctions work, sanctions matter but they have to be maintained over time and ensure that they are not circumvented,” Borrell concluded.
Russia threatens to cut off remaining gas supplies to Europe
On Tuesday evening, gas major Gazprom announced that Russia may proceed with sanctions on the Ukrainian state-owned natural gas company, NJSC Naftogaz.
Naftogaz sued Gazprom for non-payment after the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, which Russia has described as “dishonest behavior,” for which it is now threatening to impose sanctions.
According to analysts, the statement threatens to cut off gas supplies to Europe passing through Ukrainian pipelines.
Natural gas futures have jumped 22% in European markets following the Nord Stream pipeline attacks and Gazprom’s threat to Naftogaz. The markets anticipate that the little gas still flowing from Russia to Europe is close to being definitively cut off by the Kremlin.
For Germany, the recent events constitute a definitive shut-off of further natural gas supplies from Russia. For the EU, it represents a threat to the continent’s energy infrastructure.
Economist, writer and liberal. With a focus on finance, the war on drugs, history, and geopolitics // Economista, escritor y liberal. Con enfoque en finanzas, guerra contra las drogas, historia y geopolítica