Briefly: Senior intelligence officials in the US and EU suspect a group of pro-Ukraine partisans is behind the blasts that damaged the Nord Stream pipelines last year. US officials say they don’t believe the Ukrainian government was behind the attacks.
Some context: Late last September a series of blasts targeted the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, causing significant gas leaks in the Baltic Sea. The pipelines were built to transport natural gas from Russia to Europe.
The blasts were clearly acts of sabotage, but mystery shrouded the ‘who’ and the ‘why’. The main suspects and their motives were:
- Kyiv: to reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian gas, enabling Europe to back Kyiv 100% against Moscow
- The US/UK: as above, plus leaving the EU gas market open for US exports
- Moscow: adept at underwater skulduggery, but it was never clear why Russia would destroy its own revenue and leverage over Europe
Intrigue’s take: This controlled leak from US intelligence suggests Russia didn’t do it. So suspicion now shifts to the other suspects. And that’s huge. The slightest whiff of Ukrainian involvement risks angering Europe, particularly Germany, where millions of industrial jobs were long reliant on cheap Russian energy.
So pinning the blame on a mystery ‘pro-Ukrainian group’ (but not Ukraine!) is a rather neat solution, reducing the risk of EU solidarity splintering. It’s just hard to see how a ‘group’ (rather than government) would have the capability to pull off such a complex operation.
The Cluedo continues.
Also worth noting:
- Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh has accused the US of planning and executing the attack, though most experts have rejected his claims.
- Following the incident, the Norwegian armed forces raised their surveillance levels around Norway’s North Sea oil and gas infrastructure.