As with most news stories of critical importance lately, there are multiple conflicting reports as to whether or not the Nord Stream pipeline was intentionally sabotaged. Propagandists, conspirators and world governments have been hard at work to deflect and deny with spin that would shame hurricane Ian.
To unravel what we don’t know, let’s start with what we do know. You know, real journalism.
Nord Stream 2, a German–English expression translating to “North Stream 2” was completed in September of 2021 amidst fears at its inception and construction that the pipeline would be used as geopolitical leverage by Russia over Europe, Ukraine. and Western allies. The pipeline is approximately 767 miles long and approximately 48 inches in diameter. It runs from Northwestern Russia, through the Baltic Sea, to Northeastern Germany. Nord Stream 2 was designed to increase the annual capacity of Nord Stream to a natural gas capacity of 3.9 trillion cubic feet annually.
On September 26, 2022, a loss of pressure, and a “strong upward flow” of methane—the single largest discharge ever recorded (according to NPR)—was preceded by multiple explosions as reported by Danish and Swedish officials.
I have yet to come across a credible article pointing to an accidental rupture of Nord Stream 2. So, if this was no accident, then who did it?
The leading international strategists appear to be split between whether the United States or Russia is responsible. Both the United States and Russia are denying responsibility and throwing blame at the other. So with the he-said she-said gridlock, can we identify who had the strongest motive and the most to gain from the attack on the pipeline?
Let’s look at Russia first. According to the Wall Street Journal, halfway through 2021 U.S. imports of crude oil from Russia hit its highest levels in a decade, but still don’t make up the largest part of our supplied oil; that predominantly comes from Canada 51.3 percent, Mexico 8.4 percent and Saudi Arabia 5.1 percent. Russia has 80,000,000,000 barrels in its oil reserves, and ranks 8th in the world—more than 60 times its annual consumption. Russia is the largest exporter of oil to global markets, increasing its revenue by 1.7 billion in 2021.
Multiple reports indicate that Nord Stream 2 was not yet operational and Nord Stream was operating at reduced capacity (20 percent). In late February 2022, Russia received U.S. imposed sanctions due to the Ukraine conflict which included decertification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline; of which Russia has been an outspoken proponent. Putin has openly criticized what he calls “the green agenda” as the culprit for Europe’s energy crisis; stating that if the European Union wants more gas they should lift the imposed sanctions and open the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Opponents have long feared that Putin could cut off gas supply to Europe and use the pipeline as leverage.
If the pipeline is gone, so is any leveraged advantage for Russia. Russia directly benefits from higher energy prices and economic unrest across Europe. Russia has been deemed the aggressor in the Ukraine conflict and has drawn global scorn, with any link to sabotage resulting in stiffer sanctions and condemnation. So what would be Russia’s motive? Money? Greed? Destabilization? What do they gain from the pipeline attack? Power? Control? Perhaps.
Let’s look at the United States. Russia has long been the preferred whipping boy of the United States. Although none of these Russia collusion theories proved to be factually correct, they did serve to make Americans hypersensitive to all things Russia. Included in this mix is the fact that Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry and other high-ranking U.S. officials have children who have sat or currently do sit in executive level positions on various boards of directors for Ukraine energy entities.
In January 2021, Biden shut down production of the Keystone pipeline and others, taking the United States off the path of energy independence. We currently import 8 percent of our crude from Russia, yet we have imposed numerous sanctions in 2022. Since January 2021, Biden has committed 16.9 billion dollars in foreign aid, with Ukraine also receiving financial assistance from 50 countries.
Also in January of 2021, Biden affirmed opposition to Nord Stream 2 stating “Nord Stream 2 is a bad deal for Europe” and that his administration “will be reviewing new sanctions.” On May 19, 2021 Biden flip-flopped and waived sanctions on Nord Stream 2 amidst heavy criticism by both Republican and Democratic lawmakers. Why the switch? What’s the takeaway? The widely held belief is that the United States opposes the pipeline because Nord Stream 2 would increase Europe’s dependency on Russia’s lucrative gas exports and mitigate the effectiveness of U.S.-imposed sanctions. Don’t take my word for it; Joe Biden stated earlier in the year that, “if Russia invades . . . then there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2.” A reporter responded “But how will you do that, it’s in Germany’s control?” Biden replied, “I promise you, we will be able to do that.”
I invite all critical thinkers to weigh in on this debate. Each country directs blame at the other. Each is in a propaganda war. Each has the means and ability to execute an attack on the pipeline. Yet, only one has stated intent to destroy the pipeline.