By Lucas Leiroz,
Published on BRICS Information Portal, Sept 28, 2022:
The recent incident on the Nord Stream pipeline has drawn the attention of the entire world. Authorities on both sides of the global geopolitical scenario pointed to possibilities indicating deliberate sabotage and terrorism. Kiev baselessly accuses Moscow of being responsible for the act, however several evidence indicate that the biggest suspect of having operated this sabotage is the US.
On September 27, the Swedish National Seismic Network (SNSN) reported a series of strong underwater explosions in the region of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline facilities. As a result of the explosions, many gas leaks occurred, huge sea waves were generated, and the structure of the entire gas pipeline was severely harmed. Interestingly, the day before, a similar incident had already been reported by Nord Stream AG – the company that manages the gas transport – at the installations of the second pipeline. Strong pressure drops hit Nord Stream 2 and left worrying damage to the facilities. Now, Nord Stream 1 and 2 are both damaged.
Obviously, the economic and environmental damage of a tragedy like this is countless and irreparable. However, what is most remarkable is the fact that both gas pipelines collapsed at virtually the same time and precisely at this moment of so many international tensions involving the West and Russia. In fact, the possibility that the explosions in both pipelines occurred accidentally was not received with credibility by either side on the world scenario. EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said he did not believe in the hypothesis of an accident, which led Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko to mention in an interview that Moscow is willing to cooperate with the EU in investigations if there is a request to do so.
As expected, some Ukrainian and Western leaders immediately began to unjustifiably accuse Russia, despite Moscow’s willingness to cooperate with Europe to find those responsible for the possible sabotage. Kiev’s presidential adviser Mikhaylo Podolyak, for example, commented on his social media: “The large-scale ‘gas leak’ from Nord Stream 1 is nothing more than a terrorist attack planned by Russia and an act of aggression towards the EU. [Moscow is seeking to] destabilize the economic situation in Europe and cause pre-winter panic”.
However, at no time was any plausible evidence presented to support this “conclusion” of Russian participation in the sabotage. From different points of view, it is possible to say that it would not be in Moscow’s interest to promote such an action. The Nord Stream project was a very important part of Russo-European energy relations and there would be no strategic reason for either side to try to boycott the pipelines.
On the other hand, if there is one side that has repeatedly expressed an interest in boycotting Russian-European relations, it is the US. In order to isolate Russia and increase European dependence on Washington and its allies, the US government boycotted Nord Stream on several occasions with sanctions and coercive measures. Before the start of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine, the US had already tried to dissuade Europeans from continuing energy cooperation with Moscow, which was intensified by anti-Russian packages of measures since February. In fact, Washington has used the operation in Ukraine as an excuse to advance its agenda of complete separation between Russia and Europe.
More than that: US officials have made it clear on some occasions that they would take direct action against Nord Stream if Russia “invaded” Ukraine. On January 7, President Biden stated in a press conference: “if Russia invades, then there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it. I promise you, we will be able to do that”. Also, earlier Victoria Nuland had already said, in January, that “if Russia invades Ukraine, one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward”.
Considering that the beginning of the special military operation for the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine is seen by the West as an “invasion”, these threats made by the American authorities in the past sound today practically as a confession of guilt for the possible sabotage against the gas pipelines. In fact, this is the opinion even of some pro-Western authorities, such as the former Polish Foreign Minister Sikorski who posted on his social network a photo of the explosion on Nord Stream 1 writing “Thank you, USA”, admitting believing that Washington provoked the tragedy.
It is important to remember that Poland was also interested in the end of the Nord Stream project, as the gas pipeline directly connects Russia and Europe, ending the dependence on the Polish route, which made costs higher and gave the Polish government bargaining power with Europe. In fact, the US and Poland would be the most suspect countries in the case of sabotage against Russian-European gas pipelines and this seems evident from the pronouncements of these authorities.
Now, it remains to be seen how Europe will deal with these facts. It is essential that this tragedy serves as an example to illustrate the anti-strategic aspect of this subservient relationship that the EU has been maintaining with the US in recent decades. Washington exhibits an authoritarian and aggressive behavior and is possibly involved in a sabotage operation that will worsen the European energy crisis during this coming winter. This is more than enough reason for European states to start adopting a sovereign foreign policy.
Lucas Leiroz is a researcher in Social Sciences at the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and a geopolitical consultant.
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