The following article is reproduced in slightly edited form from finance twitter with thanks.
After the Nord Stream gas pipeline was blown up last month (26 September), questions have been raised over who did it. Both the west and Russia agreed it was sabotage, which means it was not an accident. It was a pre-planned terrorist attack to permanently terminate any hope of Europe going back for Russian gas. And it’s safe to conclude two countries were not involved – Russia and Germany.
It can’t be Germany because sabotaging the pipeline would freeze the Germans to death during the coming winter. It can’t be Russia because it can easily switch off the flow of gas to Germany if it wants to. As expected, the west was quick to point fingers at Russia even though it can’t offer a decent justification for blaming the Kremlin.
The culprit that blew up the Nord Stream pipeline would benefit the most from the sabotage. There’s only one country which fits the bill: the United States. After Nord Stream was crippled, Europe is now at the mercy of the USA for the supply of gas. French president Emmanuel Macron has just gone ballistic, complaining that Europe is left paying four times higher prices for its natural gas.
The steel pipe itself has a wall of 4.1cm (1.6in) and is coated with steel-reinforced concrete up to 11cm thick. Each section of the pipe weighs 11 tonnes, which increases to 24-25 tonnes after the concrete is applied. The undersea pipelines are designed in such a way that they are not accidentally damaged and leaks are rare. Nord Stream was deliberately blown up with explosive devices.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean the USA has to do all the dirty work itself. On Saturday (29 October), Russia’s defence ministry finally revealed that America’s sidekick Britain was involved in the attack. Moscow said “British specialists” who blew up the pipeline were the same British navy team that had attacked the Russian Black Sea fleet in Crimea earlier on Saturday using Ukrainian drones.
Russia said: “According to available information, representatives of this unit of the British navy took part in the planning, provision and implementation of a terrorist attack in the Baltic Sea on 26 September this year – blowing up the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines.” Nine UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) and seven autonomous marine drones were involved in the attack.
Interestingly, Sweden and Denmark have both concluded that four leaks on Nord Stream 1 and 2 were caused by explosions, but have refrained from saying who might be responsible. Strangely, Sweden said on 14 October that it would no longer take part in a joint investigation of the pipeline leaks and does not want to share results of its own investigations with other countries.
If Russia was indeed responsible for blowing up its own pipeline, exactly why was it so difficult for Sweden and Denmark to blame the sabotage on the Kremlin? The only explanation is that not only is there no proof that Moscow was involved, but all the leads were actually pointing towards US and British intelligence or military involvement in the terror attacks.
The backfiring sanctions war against Russia
The Nord Stream 1 pipeline between Russia and Germany is 51 percent owned by St Petersburg-headquartered Gazprom, while Nord Stream 2 is owned by a Swiss subsidiary of the same company. So what would be the point for Russia of destroying its own pipeline?
Gazprom, which had cut gas flows to just 40 percent in July, had recently further cut it to just 20 percent in an effort to punish Germany – the EU’s biggest economy – for imposing sanctions on Russia. Nord Stream 1 effectively stopped pumping gas to Europe “indefinitely” from 31 August after maintenance work, reducing the pipeline’s load to zero. President Putin has said that Russia will not resume gas supplies to Europe until sanctions are lifted.
So Russia’s plan appeared to be just to wait for Europe to lift its sanctions, betting that the European Union would eventually blink as the coming winter cold brought the possibility of peoples’ uprisings. And there are signs that the plan was working. High energy prices and mounting costs of living have fuelled civil unrest across Europe as winter approaches, including street protests and strikes.
Moscow has repeatedly said that western allegations blaming Russia for the attacks were “stupid” because it had nothing to gain but everything to lose by destroying its own pipelines. On the other hand, Russian officials have pointed out that Washington does have a motive as it wants to sell more liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe. Of course, both Washington and London have denied involvement.
Liz Truss provides the smoking gun
On Sunday (30 October), it was revealed that former British prime minister Liz Truss had sent a text message saying “It’s done” to none other than the US secretary of state Antony Blinken – just one minute after the Nord Stream attack. Kim Dotcom, a self-proclaimed ‘internet freedom fighter’, said that the text message is the reason Russia believes the USA was involved.
Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper also reported on Sunday that private messages between Truss and other international foreign ministers, including some about Ukraine, have fallen into foreign hands because many dumb government officials, including Truss, still prefer using iPhones over the military-encrypted phones issued by the NSA (National Security Agency) or British intelligence GCHQ.
Kim Dotcom, who was born Kim Schmitz in West Germany, said: “Liz Truss used her iPhone to send a message to Secretary Blinken saying ‘it’s done’ a minute after the pipeline blew up and before anybody else knew.” Because iPhones use iCloud, Russian and Chinese hackers could easily access Apple iCloud to obtain the information.
Immediately after it was exposed that Truss’s iPhone might have been hacked, leading to the embarrassing leaks, chair of the defence select committee, Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, told Sky News on Sunday that Russia is “getting better and better at these cyberattacks and hacking”. However, British opposition parties have demanded an investigation into the reported claims.
Sources said that up to a year’s worth of messages were downloaded from Truss’s phone, and that they included criticisms of then-prime minster Boris Johnson by Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng. Truss’s phone also contained secret details of talks about the war in Ukraine, including arms shipments, as well as private messages with Kwarteng, the chancellor during Truss’ 44-day administration.
Almost immediately after Nord Stream 1 and 2 were blown up, former Polish defence minister Radek Sikorski set tongues wagging. A fierce critic of Vladimir Putin, Sikorski, who was minister of national defence from 2005-07 and has also served as deputy minister of national defence and deputy minister of foreign affairs, posted a tweet that read: “Thank you, USA”.
Currently an elected member of the European parliament, Sikorski was pointing his finger at the USA as the culprit behind the sabotage of Nord Stream 1 and 2.
Back on 7 February, President Joe Biden had promised to prevent Nord Stream 2 from becoming operational if Russia invaded Ukraine. The US president said: “If Russia invades, then there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.”
When a reporter asked: “But how will you do that, exactly, since the project is in Germany’s control?” Biden confidently replied: “I promise you, we will be able to do that.” Interestingly, a day after the sabotage, German magazine Der Spiegel reported that the CIA had warned Germany weeks ago of a coming attack on the pipelines.
Time to make some hay
Asking ourselves who benefits, the accusation that Britain was responsible for the bombing is far more credible than the claims of Russia rendering inoperable tens of billions of dollars’ worth of key infrastructure it has developed over almost three decades since 1997. Given Britain’s intimate relationship with the USA, it’s hard to believe that London would have blown up Nord Stream without Washington’s approval.
It’s worth mentioning that right after Nord Stream was attacked, Blinken stated happily: “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 weaponisation of energy as a means of advancing his imperial designs.”