Q+A “Sabotage” of Nord Stream gas: who is blamed and why?

WARSAW, Sept 30 (Reuters) – The major leaks that suddenly erupted in the Nord Stream gas pipelines that connect Russia to Europe under the Baltic Sea have generated many theories, but few clear answers about who or what caused the damage.

Here is what we know and what has been said so far:


So far, most governments and officials have avoided pointing fingers directly, although some have hinted louder than others.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

European Union states say they believe the damage was caused by sabotage, but refrained from naming anyone. Fatih Birol, the head of the International Energy Agency, said he was “very obviouswho was behind but didn’t say who it was.

The Kremlin said the allegations of Russian responsibility were “dumband Russian officials said Washington had a motive because it wanted to sell more liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe.

President Vladimir Putin called the incident “unprecedented sabotage” and “an act of international terrorism”, while the head of the Russian intelligence agency Sergei Naryshkin said west did “everything he could” to conceal the perpetrators.

The White House dismissed the charges for which it was responsible.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said he was still too early finger pointing and a full investigation was needed. “As far as the attack – or the damage to the pipeline, at this point I think there’s a lot of speculation,” he said.

European leaders and Moscow say they cannot rule out sabotage. Map of Nord Stream pipelines and locations of reported leaks


German Navy chief Jan Christian Kaack told German daily Die Welt in its Monday edition that on the day the leaks were discovered, although he was apparently speaking before that: “Russia has also built up a capability considerable under water. At the bottom of the Baltic Sea, but also in the Atlantic, there is a lot of critical infrastructure such as pipelines or submarine cables for IT.”

Alongside Nord Stream, a new gas pipeline has been built between gas-producing Norway and Poland, which is seeking to end its dependence on Russian energy, making the region highly sensitive for Europe’s energy security.

“(Russia) can intimidate the Europeans with an act of sabotage. Because if they are able to blow up these pipelines in the bottom of the Baltic Sea, they could also blow up the new pipeline,” said Kristine Berzina , safety and security researcher. defense at the German Marshall Fund.

However, if it was an act of sabotage, it damaged pipelines built by Kremlin-controlled Gazprom. (GAZP.MM) and its European partners at a cost that amounted to billions of dollars.

The damage also means Russia is losing an element of leverage it still had over Europe, which scrambled to find alternative gas supplies for the winter, even though the Nord Stream pipelines weren’t pumping gas when the leaks were discovered, analysts said.

No matter who or what is to blame, Ukraine can also benefit. Kyiv has long called on Europe to suspend all purchases of Russian fuel – even though some of the gas is still flowing to Europe through its territory. The Nord Stream disruption brings Kyiv’s call for a full Russian fuel embargo closer to reality.


Experts say the scale of the damage and the fact that the leaks were far apart on two different pipelines indicate the act was intentional and well-orchestrated.

Seismologists in Denmark and Sweden said they recorded two powerful explosions near the leaks on Monday and that the explosions occurred in the water and not under the seabed.

A UK defense source told Sky News the attack was likely premeditated and triggered from afar using underwater mines or other explosives.

“Something big caused these explosions, which means … Russia could do it. In theory, the United States could do it too, but I don’t really see the motivation there,” he told Reuters. Oliver Alexander, an open source intelligence analyst.

The United States had long called on Europe to end its dependence on Russian gas, he said, but Washington had little obvious motivation to act now because Nord Stream was no longer pumping gas to the US. Europe at the time the leaks were discovered, although the pipelines had pressurized gas inside.

“They’ve already managed to stop Nord Stream 2. It was already dead in the water, it wasn’t going anywhere,” he said.

Analysts say it’s possible the damage was inflicted by devices available on the commercial market, but given the scale and precision, it was more likely done by an actor with access to technology. more sophisticated.

Russia says it believes a state actor was involved.

“It is very difficult to imagine that such an act of terrorism could have happened without the involvement of any state,” the Kremlin spokesman said. Dmitry Peskov. “This is a very dangerous situation that requires urgent investigation.”

US news channel CNN, citing three sources, reported that European security officials observed Russian Navy support ships and submarines not far from the sites of the Nord Stream leaks. Asked about the report, Peskov said there had been a much larger NATO presence in the region.


At Russia’s request, the UN Security Council is meeting on Friday to discuss damage to oil pipelines, while the Europeans continue their investigations.

For now, however, a more direct tact between Russia and the West could escalate tensions that have already soared over the war in Ukraine, said Marek Swierczynski, a defense analyst for the think tank Polish Polityka Insight.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Reporting from Reuters offices, with additional reporting by Sabine Seibold; Editing by Alexander Smith and Edmund Blair

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *