2022 Nord Stream pipeline sabotage

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On 26 September 2022, a series of clandestine bombings and subsequent underwater gas leaks occurred on the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipelines. Both pipeline pairs were built to transport natural gas from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea, and are majority owned by the Russian majority state-owned gas company, Gazprom. The sabotage happened as the alternative Baltic Pipe was being opened for natural gas to come in from the North Sea through Denmark to Poland. The perpetrators' identities and the motives behind the sabotage remain debated.



  • It may never be possible to determine definitively whether Monday’s underwater explosions at the two Nord Stream gas pipelines were the work of Russian sabotage, but it is certainly the way to bet.... The Nord Stream 1 pipeline between Russia and Germany is 51% owned by Gazprom, the St Petersburg-headquartered energy giant, while Nord Stream 2 is owned by a Swiss subsidiary of the same company. None of those assets would, by this thinking, demand any kind of Nato or other western military response.
    • Whether or not Russia was behind the Nord Stream blasts, Guardian, September 27, 2022
  • Two undersea leaks that began in the Russian-owned Nord Stream gas pipelines on Monday were likely caused by powerful underwater explosions, according to Swedish and Danish seismographic data. It is "very clear from the seismic record that these are blasts," Björn Lund‬, director of the Swedish National Seismic Network at Uppsala University told NPR... Lund says both the Swedish network and the Danish Seismic Network picked up the explosions... The first blast occurred at 2:03 a.m. Swedish time, and a second, larger explosion occurred at 7:04 p.m. "Preliminary estimates would say that this is at least equivalent to 100 kilograms of dynamite,"... Lund says there's no natural event that could have created such unique seismic signatures less than 24 hours apart... Instead, he says that the seismic events closely resembled what the network has detected in the past when the Swedish navy has conducted training exercises using depth charges and undersea mines. Lund says he has notified the Swedish armed forces of his findings; they did not immediately respond to NPR's emailed request for comment.
    • Seismologists suspect explosions damaged undersea pipelines that carry Russian gas, NPR, September 27, 2022
  • Speaking on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged the possibility that the damage to the pipelines was deliberate, then added: "If it is confirmed, that's clearly in no one's interest."
    • Seismologists suspect explosions damaged undersea pipelines that carry Russian gas, NPR, September 27, 2022
  • The Nord Stream gas pipelines are colossal pieces of infrastructure. Running more than 1,200 kilometers from Russia, across the Baltic Sea to Germany, the pipes can carry up to 110 billion cubic meters of gas, enough for 26 million homes. The Nord Stream 1 pipeline alone is constructed of 202,000 huge pieces of piping. Each section is 12 meters long and contains piping that uses around 4 centimeters of steel, which is covered with 11 centimeters of concrete. The pipes are not built to break. So when the pressure in one of the Nord Stream pipes dropped on September 26, alarm bells started ringing. Danish authorities told ships to steer clear of the pipes as methane gas was bubbling into the sea. Hours later, two more leaks were detected, one in Nord Stream 2 and a second in Nord Stream 1. Now, authorities are suspecting foul play... Fingers immediately pointed at Russia, which partly owns the pipes. Ukraine has said it is a “terrorist attack,” and German newspaper Der Spiegel reported that the CIA warned German officials about possible attacks against Baltic pipelines several weeks ago... Right-wing Right-wing commentators in the US and one Polish MP accused the US of being involved after President Joe Biden said, in February, he would “put an end” to Nord Stream 2 if Russia invaded Ukraine... The Kremlin claimed suggestions it is behind the leaks are “stupid.
    • Wired (magazine), The Race to Find the Nord Stream Saboteurs, Matt Burgess, September 27, 2022
  • In February of this year, just prior to the Russian invasion, U.S. President Joe Biden said Nord Stream 2 would not move forward if Russian President Vladimir Putin went through with an attack on Ukraine. "If Russia invades," Biden said during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, "then there will be longer Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it." Asked by a reporter how he would achieve that, Biden responded, "I promise you we will be able to do it."
    • Common Dreams A really big hole': Sabotage suspected as Russia's Nord Stream oil pipelines spew methane, Jake Johnson, September 27, 2022
  • President Joe Biden, with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz...promised... that the U.S. was “able” to shut down the German-Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline... if Russia invaded Ukraine. A reporter asked Biden, “But how will you do that, exactly, since… the project is in Germany’s control?” Biden said: “I promise you, we will be able to do that.” When Russia indeed invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, Washington was able to get Berlin to suspend the pipeline project that was about to go online, even though it wasn’t in Germany’s interests. The pipeline has remained closed ever since. Why then did someone attack the pipeline on Monday... As long as the war continues, the U.S. has what it wants regarding the pipeline.
  • After all, if they need [gas] urgently, if things are so bad, just go ahead and lift sanctions against Nord Stream 2, with its 55 billion cubic metres per year – all they have to do is press the button and they will get it going. But they chose to shut it off themselves; they cannot repair one pipeline and imposed sanctions against the new Nord Stream 2 and will not open it. Are we to blame for this? Let them think hard about who is to blame and let none of them blame us for their own mistakes. Gazprom and Russia have always fulfilled and will fulfil all obligations under our agreements and contracts, with no failures ever.
  • NATO said that a series of leaks on the Nord Stream pipelines between Russia and Europe were the result of sabotage and that attacks on its members’ infrastructure would be met with a collective response from the military alliance. The statement, from the North Atlantic Council, the decision-making body of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, didn’t provide details or evidence. It also noted that the damage to the pipelines occurred in international waters. But it marks the first time the alliance has formally warned that it would deter and defend against attacks on its members’ critical infrastructure following the now four documented leaks in the Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 pipelines.
    • NATO Formally Blames Sabotage for Nord Stream Pipeline Damage, Military alliance says it would be prepared to defend its infrastructure from attacks, in a ratcheting up of tensions between Russia and the West, The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 29, 2022
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday accused the West of sabotaging Russia-built natural gas pipelines under the Baltic Sea to Germany, a charge vehemently denied by the United States and its allies. Nordic nations said the undersea blasts that damaged the pipelines this week and have led to huge methane leaks involved several hundred pounds of explosives. The claim by Putin came ahead of an emergency meeting Friday at the U.N. Security Council in New York on the attacks on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, and as Norwegian researchers published a map projecting that a huge plume of methane from the damaged pipelines will travel over large swaths of the Nordic region. Speaking Friday in Moscow at a ceremony to annex four regions of Ukraine into Russia, Putin claimed that “Anglo-Saxons” in the West have turned from imposing sanctions on Russia to “terror attacks,” sabotaging the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in what he described as an attempt to “destroy the European energy infrastructure.” He added that “those who profit from it have done it,” without naming a specific country.
    In Washington, U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration dismissed Putin’s pipeline claims as outlandish. “We’re not going to let Russia’s disinformation distract us or the world from its transparently fraudulent attempt to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory,” White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said Friday.
    • West rejects Putin’s claim it sabotaged Nord Stream gas pipelines, Jan M. Olsen, Associated Press, September 30, 2022
  • The reaction to the sabotage of three of the four Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in four places on Monday, September 26, has focused on speculations about who did it and whether NATO will make a serious attempt to discover the answer. Yet instead of panic, there has been a great sigh of diplomatic relief, even calm.
  • As probes by European authorities continue, the Swedish security police said on Thursday that suspicions of gross sabotage on the pipelines had been strengthened following a crime scene investigation... The Danes are also carrying out an investigation, with both countries excluding Russia from the probes. Russia's foreign ministry said on Thursday it was "unthinkable" that an investigation.. would proceed without Moscow's participation. So far, Western governments and officials have avoided pointing a finger directly, while Russia has blamed the West.
    The Kremlin said allegations of Russian responsibility were "stupid" and Russian officials have said Washington had a motive as it wants to sell more liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe.
    President Vladimir Putin said on Friday the United States and its allies blew up Nord Stream. "The sanctions were not enough for the Anglo-Saxons: they moved onto sabotage," he said...
    "(Russia) can intimidate Europeans through an act of sabotage. Because if they're able to blow up these pipelines in the Baltic seabed, they could do that as well to the new pipeline," said Kristine Berzina, senior fellow for security and defence at the German Marshall Fund (of the U.S.).... Whoever or whatever is to blame, Ukraine may also be a beneficiary. Kyiv has long called for Europe to halt all purchases of Russian fuel - even though some gas still runs to Europe across its territory. Disrupting Nord Stream brings Kyiv's call for a full Russian fuel embargo closer to reality.
    • Reuters, Nord Stream gas 'sabotage': who's being blamed and why? By Joanna Plucinska. October 6, 2022
  • Experts say the scale of the damage and the fact that the leaks are far from each other on two different pipelines indicate that the act was intentional and well-orchestrated. Seismologists in Denmark and Sweden said they had registered two powerful blasts on Monday, Sept. 26 in the vicinity of the leaks and the explosions were in the water, not under the seabed.... The U.S. news channel CNN, citing three sources, reported that European security officials had observed Russian navy support ships and submarines not far from the sites of the Nord Stream leaks. Asked about the report, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there had been a much larger NATO presence in the area.
    • Reuters, Nord Stream gas 'sabotage': who's being blamed and why? By Joanna Plucinska, October 6, 2022
  • Intent, motive and means: People serving life sentences in U.S. prisons have been convicted on weaker grounds than the circumstantial evidence against Washington for the attack on the Nord Stream pipelines...Shame on American journalism for ignoring this flagrant attack on Europe. Shame on Europe for not having the courage to publicly name their attacker.
  • Russia is ready to deliver additional volumes of natural gas to the European Union in the autumn-winter period, President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday....Putin said that those behind the sabotage sought to break ties completely between Russia and the European Union, weaken Europe's industrial potential and seize the market.


  • The Kremlin on Thursday said the world must know the truth about who blew up the Nord Stream gas pipelines and that there should be an international probe of the sabotage after a U.S. investigative journalist said U.S. navy divers blew them up... Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the blog by Hersh deserved more attention and that he was surprised it had not been covered more fully by Western media. Ultimately, Peskov said, it underscored the need for an international investigation of the sabotage of the 1,224-km (760-mile) long pipelines. The world, Peskov said, deserves to know the truth about what happened.
    • Reuters, Kremlin says world must know the truth about Nord Stream blasts, Guy Faulconbridge and Vladimir Soldatkin, Feb 9, 2023
  • Edward Snowden, whose spectacular leaks of classified US National Security Agency documents a decade ago shocked US security establishment, compared the US denial to the official line the US took in 1961 following the Bay of Pigs incident. "Can you think of any examples from history of a secret operation that the White House was responsible for, but strongly denied? ... Besides, you know, that little 'mass surveillance' kerfuffle," Snowden tweeted. Storied whistleblower Edward Snowden questioned the US denial of its alleged role in the bombing of the Nord Stream gas pipeline last year.
    • International Business Times, Edward Snowden Rubbishes US Denial of Role in Nord Stream Gas Line Bombing; Cites Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961, February 9, 2023

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says that U.S. officials have admitted that they were behind the Nord Stream pipeline explosion. Russia's Sputnik news reported Lavrov as saying the U.S. ordered the explosions to destroy what he called a powerful alliance of Russian energy and German technology.
    • CGTN, Russian FM: U.S. admits it's responsible for Nord Stream blast Russian FM: U.S. admits it's responsible for Nord Stream blast, February 13, 2023
  • Western media and officials were even more ridiculous when they tried to blame Russia for blowing up its own pipelines... According to NATO, the explosions that released half a million tons of methane into the atmosphere were "deliberate, reckless, and irresponsible acts of sabotage."The Washington Post, in what could be considered journalistic malpractice, quoted an anonymous "senior European environmental official" saying, "No one on the European side of the ocean is thinking this is anything other than Russian sabotage."
  • Former NSA whistleblower Snowden has gone on record accusing the US government of engineering the "balloon wars" scare to detract attention away from Seymour Hersh's explosive investigative report detailing how the US White House plotted and blew up the Nord Stream pipelines - an act of terrorism or war against Russia and Germany.
    • Snowden: UFO Balloons 'Engineered Panic' To Distract From Nord Stream Revelations by Daniel McAdams, The Ron Paul Liberty Report, February 14, 2023
  • The people involved in the operation saw that the President wanted to freeze Germany for his short-term political goals, and that horrified them. I'm talking about Americans who are very loyal to the United States. The CIA, as I put it in my article, works for power, not for the constitution... But even that community is appalled that Biden has decided to expose Europe to the cold to support a war he will not win. This is nefarious to me.

Seymour Hersh, How America Took Out The Nord Stream Pipeline, February 8, 2023[edit]

Full text

  • The New York Times called it a “mystery,” but the United States executed a covert sea operation that was kept secret—until now
  • The U.S. Navy’s Diving and Salvage Center can be found in a location as obscure as its name... The center has been training highly skilled deep-water divers for decades... to do the good—using C4 explosives... as well as the bad, like blowing up foreign oil rigs, fouling intake valves for undersea power plants, destroying locks on crucial shipping canals...
  • Last June, the Navy divers... planted the remotely triggered explosives that, three months later, destroyed three of the four Nord Stream pipelines, according to a source with direct knowledge of the operational planning.... Two of the pipelines... had been providing Germany and much of Western Europe with cheap Russian natural gas for more than a decade...
  • Asked for comment... a White House spokesperson, said in an email, “This is false and complete fiction.”... a spokesperson for the Central Intelligence Agency, similarly wrote: “This claim is completely and utterly false.”
    Biden’s decision to sabotage the pipelines came after more than nine months of highly secret back and forth debate inside Washington’s national security community about how to best achieve that goal. For much of that time, the issue was not whether to do the mission, but how to get it done with no overt clue as to who was responsible.
  • President Biden and his foreign policy team—National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Tony Blinken, and Victoria Nuland, the Undersecretary of State for Policy—had been vocal and consistent in their hostility to the two pipelines... Action that could be traced to the administration would violate US promises to minimize direct conflict with Russia. Secrecy was essential....
  • Planning In December of 2021, two months before the first Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine, Jake Sullivan convened a meeting of a newly formed task force—men and women from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CIA, and the State and Treasury Departments—and asked for recommendations about how to respond to Putin’s impending invasion, the first of a series of top-secret meetings... what became clear to participants, according to the source with direct knowledge of the process, is that Sullivan intended for the group to come up with a plan for the destruction of the two Nord Stream pipelines—and that he was delivering on the desires of the President.. the participants debated options for an attack... CIA argued that whatever was done, it would have to be covert...
  • If the attack were traceable to the United States, “It’s an act of war.”...
  • Over the next few weeks, members of the CIA’s working group began to craft a plan for a covert operation that would use deep-sea divers to trigger an explosion along the pipeline....
  • Still, the interagency group was initially skeptical of the CIA’s enthusiasm for a covert deep-sea attack... Throughout “all of this scheming,” the source said, “some working guys in the CIA and the State Department were saying, ‘Don’t do this. It’s stupid and will be a political nightmare if it comes out.’”...
  • What came next was stunning. On February 7, less than three weeks before the seemingly inevitable Russian invasion of Ukraine, Biden met in his White House office with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who, after some wobbling, was now firmly on the American team. At the press briefing that followed, Biden defiantly said, “If Russia invades . . . there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.” Twenty days earlier, Undersecretary Nuland had delivered essentially the same message at a State Department briefing, with little press coverage. “I want to be very clear to you today,” she said in response to a question. “If Russia invades Ukraine, one way or another Nord Stream 2 will not move forward.” ...
  • Several of those involved in planning the pipeline mission were dismayed by what they viewed as indirect references to the attack. “It was like putting an atomic bomb on the ground in Tokyo and telling the Japanese that we are going to detonate it,” the source said. “The plan was for the options to be executed post invasion and not advertised publicly. Biden simply didn’t get it or ignored it.”...
  • According to the source, some of the senior officials of the CIA determined that blowing up the pipeline “no longer could be considered a covert option because the President just announced that we knew how to do it.”..
  • The plan to blow up Nord Stream 1 and 2 was suddenly downgraded from a covert operation requiring that Congress be informed to one that was deemed as a highly classified intelligence operation with U.S. military support. Under the law, the source explained, “There was no longer a legal requirement to report the operation to Congress. All they had to do now is just do it—but it still had to be secret...
  • The source recalled, “Bill Burns [CIA Director] comes back and says, ‘Do it.’”...
  • On September 26, 2022, a Norwegian Navy P8 surveillance plane made a seemingly routine flight and dropped a sonar buoy. The signal spread underwater, initially to Nord Stream 2 and then on to Nord Stream 1. A few hours later, the high-powered C4 explosives were triggered and three of the four pipelines were put out of commission. Within a few minutes, pools of methane gas that remained in the shuttered pipelines could be seen spreading on the water’s surface and the world learned that something irreversible had taken place.
  • In the immediate aftermath of the pipeline bombing, the American media treated it like an unsolved mystery. Russia was repeatedly cited as a likely culprit, spurred on by calculated leaks from the White House—but without ever establishing a clear motive for such an act of self-sabotage, beyond simple retribution.
  • Asked at a press conference last September about the consequences of the worsening energy crisis in Western Europe, Blinken described the moment as a potentially good one: “It’s a tremendous opportunity to once and for all remove the dependence on Russian energy and thus to take away from Vladimir Putin the weaponization of energy as a means of advancing his imperial designs. That’s very significant and that offers tremendous strategic opportunity for the years to come, but meanwhile we’re determined to do everything we possibly can to make sure the consequences of all of this are not borne by citizens in our countries or, for that matter, around the world.”
  • More recently, Victoria Nuland expressed satisfaction at the demise of the newest of the pipelines. Testifying at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in late January she told Senator Ted Cruz, Like you, I am, and I think the Administration is, very gratified to know that Nord Stream 2 is now, as you like to say, a hunk of metal at the bottom of the sea.

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