Whilst the world was focused on happenings in the Ukraine last year, September saw both of the Nord Stream pipelines systems supplying liquified natural gas to Germany being destroyed. After the multitude of headlines and accusations, the last week has seen a barrage of allegations placing the blame at Kiev’s door. This article will look at the pipeline and its importance to Germany, the new accusations concerning the Ukraine and how this may all fit together.
Nord Stream: Energy Express from the East.
The two Nord Stream pipelines (which in themselves comprised two pipes apiece) stretched around 750 miles from Vyborg and Ust-Luga in Russia to Lubmin in northeastern Germany. All told, they had the capacity to transfer nearly four trillion cubic feet of gas per annum. This added up to nearly fifty percent of all the gas imported into the EU, and prior to hostilities in Eastern Europe was a cornerstone not only of European energy policy, but also of the industries which relied so heavily on it.
Pillar and Pivot.
As such, European reliance on Russian energy exports was more important to the Old Continent than the income was to the Russians, yet this went against the plans of those who not only wanted to harm Russia, but also wished to keep Europe from challenging US economic leadership in global affairs.
Washington had on repeated occasions called for European nations to cease energy imports, yet until the undersea explosions happened, gas had continued to flow into Europe. Joe Biden had been most vociferous, on the 7th of February, saying at a press conference that he ‘would bring an end to Nord Stream 2,’ adding ‘We will, I promise you, we’ll be able to do it’ The fact that such a blatant declaration of intended interference was made during a visit of German Chancellor Scholz to the US is not only an excellent indicator of how the White House wishes to blatantly interfere in the affairs of other nations, but also the degree of complicity that European leaders afford to Washington.
It goes without saying that should anyone manage to keep the Europeans from Russian gas, not only would that mean it would lose its competitive edge, this would generate immense profits for American companies wishing to fill cover the shortfall from Russian supplies. Put simply, should Europe, and more pointedly Germany lose the pillar of cheap energy from Russia, it would have to pivot towards the one nation that is hellbent on Moscow’s downfall.
Pop Goes the Pipeline.
It was after Russia launched its Special Military Operation in the Ukraine that relations between Moscow and Berlin became really fraught, and Russia had already vastly curtailed its supplies through the pipeline prior to September. Yet it was on the 26th of that month that catastrophic losses in pressure were detected at the same time that seismometers in neighboring countries recorded activity indicating explosions. As a result, three of the four pipelines had been rendered inoperable. This released enormous quantities of gas into the waters of the Baltic Sea in the Swedish and Danish economic zones. It was within days ascertained that the three pipelines had fallen victim to sabotage, underwater explosive devices been detonated in order to destroy them. When dealing with catastrophes or failures such as this, there are usually a multitude of ideas and theories, yet with Washington having been so determined for so long to stop the pipeline from operating, it was presumed by everyone to be sabotage from the moment it was announced.
With the Western world being the Russophobic echo chamber that it is today, even before explosions had been actually proven to have caused the damage, the media were accusing Moscow of being behind the attacks. Despite the White House having repeatedly called for Nord Stream to be shut down, the moment it effectively was, Washington accused Moscow of malfeasance. On the 29th, Russian president Putin stated that (it was) ‘an unprecedented act of international terrorism.’ The anti-Russian storyline held until the beginning of the year when further evidence came to light. This will be examined later, yet it is noteworthy that from the moment of Nord Stream’s failure hitting the headlines, nobody talked of anything but sabotage.
The pipes themselves consist of a steel inner wall more than an inch thick encased within a concrete jacket. These were specifically designed to be strong enough to withstand being struck by a sinking ship. They are also rated to operate at pressures of up to 3000 psi. With their being breached, these are now rendered absolutely useless due to the ingress of corrosive seawater. Once underwater craft were able to reach where the attacks had occurred, it was found that the fractures were at a depth of about 180 feet of water. It was ascertained that three of the four pipelines had been breached by explosive devices which were later estimated by the Swedish National Seismic Network to have been been around 100 kgs of TNT equivalent. Aside from the physical damages, the fact that one Western power would commit such an act in order to hamper another speaks volumes to the collective East as to the lengths certain West nations will go in order to attain their goals.
Underhanded Ukrainian Undertaking?
Recent days have seen a plethora of allegations accusing Kiev of being behind the attacks, yet the storyline has more holes than a bullet-riddled Swiss cheese. According to the narrative that has apparently been unearthed, a leisure yacht was rented in Poland and after touring the region, a crew of six were able to position themselves squarely over the pipeline. Thereafter, the two divers on board, with an absolute minimum of diving equipment were able to place large explosive charges on the pipes themselves. Quite how just two men with normal diving equipment were supposed to have carried out an attack such as this at such a depth has not been explained. Additionally, the tale goes on to say that traces of explosive were later found on a table on board the boat, yet there is one burning question here that nobody seems to ask.
In spite of it being so well known that the US was hellbent in destroying this conduit, why has it taken so long for this story to surface? Surely if all these facts were known last fall, why has it taken more than six months for all this to go public? The answer to that lies in two crucial matters.
Political Ping Pong.
As plausible (or not) as this story might be, we have to ask some serious questions here. The first is that the Ukraine was until a few weeks ago the poster boy of the West, and with both ministers and media fawning on Kiev and its war against Russia, the last thing the Western establishment wanted to do was detract from the aura that has been placed around the situation. The imminent fall of Artemovsk (Bakhmut) may be one reason, the West attempting to back away from a project that is simply failing. Moreover, with Zelenskiy being as boorish as he is, this is beginning to cause disquiet amongst even his most ardent supporters. The other is that in spite of Washington attempting to pressure China in every way it can, Beijing and Moscow are getting closer, and there is no way that Washington is able to break the support that China may or not want to give to Russia. Furthermore, with Beijing still eyeing Taiwan, the conflict in Eastern Europe may be the precursor to much larger and important global affairs.
Backtracking the Backing.
Looking back just two years, it would have been inconceivable that the Western world has given the Ukrainian government the help that it has. We all knew that the regime in Kiev was a puppet show appointed from Washington, yet the level of assistance over the last year has been mind-boggling. Notwithstanding the support given, Russia has continued to follow its own course, the sanctions and other measures not having even nearly the effects that were hoped for. In short, the collective West has failed as miserably in its crusade against Moscow as the Ukrainians have in their efforts to halt Russian advances; after Artemovsk has fallen, further endorsement of Kiev would merely be throwing good money after bad, and should a manner present itself whereby Washington could reduce commitments in this matter, that opportunity would be closely examined.
Whilst evidence is still circumstantial, all indications point to the US being behind the attacks on the pipelines. Were statements from Washington not enough, American military vessels specializing in undersea explosives being on exercise in that precise area during the summer of 2022 more than hints at US involvement. Moreover, revelations by Seymour Hersh (which covers the whole Nord Stream affair exceptionally well) over recent weeks only affirms guilt on the part of the White House, and the Americans suddenly find themselves needing a whipping boy to take the heat away from Washington. In light of Washington possibly wanting to distance itself from both its assistance to the Ukraine as well as deflecting the blame for the Nord Stream attacks, this would be an excellent manner in which to do so.
Buttering Up Berlin.
Hersh’s new revelations regarding US involvement in the destruction of Nord Stream is obviously of great interest to a German public that is now getting hammered by soaring energy bills. Germany has been a stronghold of US influence in Europe since the end of the Second World War and in all honesty, Germany is more important regarding Washington’s future global plans than the Ukraine. Despite all the sanctions and support that Washington has invested in its Eastern European adventure, in the long term, Berlin and the industrial power that Germany possesses is a more valuable asset to control than a basketcase satellite state bordering Russia. As much as the White House wishes to crush Moscow, Beijing , above all a resurgent post-Covid China with one eye on Taiwan is seen as a far greater threat to US dominance of affairs.
It has been obvious for decades that China is a rising power, and given enough time, it would come to rival and then surpass the US both in terms of economic and military impetus. This not only represents a threat to the dominance that the dollar has held over global trade, but also in terms of the influence that Washington can exert over Asia. For all the relevance that the Ukrainian situation has for the White House, the rise of Beijing (and its interest in Taiwan) is a more pressing problem, and the bigwigs within the Beltway know full well that attempting to crush Russia and China at the same time is beyond their means. With events happening as they are, DC may now well be looking at a way to reduce efforts in the situation of their own creation in Eastern Europe. Put succinctly, ‘The Beast from the East’ is now of a lower importance than the ‘Beast from the Far East.’
Old Power against a Prospering Pact.
Not only has the last year seen Russia entering into what was the Ukraine, but it has also witnessed relations between Moscow and Beijing improving by the month. This has been a double-edged sword in American terms, both blades cutting into Washington’s abilities to stymie others. In one case, Russia, through China is able to avoid the effects of sanctions through importing Chinese goods whilst China’s energy security is guaranteed through Russia’s exports. Moreover, with China paying far less than the West for its fuel, it has now become even more competitive than it was before. With global affairs evolving in favor of the East, the US is now forced to tackle China at the same time as the collective West does not want to lose what it has invested in the Ukraine. If this plan is to happen, Washington needs Germany as well as the rest of Europe as allies in its attempts to tackle two created enemies at once.
With matters as wide-ranging and complicated as these, a summary almost becomes a précis, yet the ends all have to be tied together if we are to understand the mechanics in play here.
The facts prior to the war starting in Europe were that in an immediate post-Covid economic landscape, the White House wanted to maximize its Drang nach Osten, it being sure that with enough pressure, it could manipulate the Ukrainian situation with a complete disregard for the consequences suffered by European nations.
A year later, not only has Russia succeeded where it should not, Western efforts to counter Moscow have failed miserably. Some of the more nefarious efforts on America’s part may however split the transatlantic alliance should they go public and as revelations become more apparent, tales are being told. Not only does DC need to deflect the blame for Nord Stream, but the greatest cause célèbre of recent decades may need to be sidelined in favor of other operations. If that is the case, Washington needs a whipping boy in order to allay the fears of its useful idiots as they continue to do its bidding.
During the year that has passed however, an invigorated China has not only aided Russia in so many ways, but has also started to voice its intentions regarding Taiwan. Just when Washington thought that both Moscow and China should have been in the back foot, Russia and China have backed each other whilst American adventurism has backed itself into a corner.
A crusade was commenced and crimes have been committed, yet as time has passed, tales have needed to be told in order that other adventures may arise. Some may believe the story yet the facts belie the baloney. Only time will tell whether turning the tale is a turning point in history, but just as with anything in the modern world, nobody does anything unless someone stands to gain something else…
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