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Nordstream Pipelines

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In case you have been living under a rock, both Nordstream 1 (NS1) and 2 (NS2) have reported massive leaks, with two leaks on NS1 and one leak on NS2. Something like this has never occurred, especially not all on a single day.

Diagram of pipeline leaks

It was later reported by SVT that:

“One of the explosions had a magnitude of 2.3, and was registered at as many as 30 measuring stations in southern Sweden,” SVT said.

Ursula von der Leyen is now claiming that these were sabotage. This is quite a big deal.


If this is sabotage, who could have done it?

Firstly, let’s talk about the requirements for even doing this. It would require the following:

  1. A submarine or elite dive team - These cost serious money. A mission of this scale probably cost several million dollars.
  2. Access to significant explosives that work underwater - These are from a military of a black market that operates at a significant level. These are things not easy to come by, you can’t just “find” this stuff.
  3. Knowledge of pipe locations - It’s not as if it is easy to see down there. You can’t just look on Google maps. So you either have done prior searching (costs money), or have somehow gained this information at the required accuracy.

All this considered, it is almost definitely a state-level actor.

Now let’s get onto the actors at play. Let’s get the easy ones out of the way first, and go from there.


One person I saw suggested this may be ecoterrorists. Given the requirements to pull this off and that there are other active pipelines, this makes no sense at all. The funding alone to pull off something like this is orders of magnitudes more than they would have available to them.


As much as people want to hate on Russia right now, and as much as they are already being blamed, this is extremely likely not to be their work. NS1 and NS2 flowed gas from Russia to the EU and this has been a bargaining chip for Russia. Why on earth would they remove one of their key negotiating powers? They can literally turn on and off the gas anytime they like.

The only possibility I can think of (currently) that could be plausible is that Russia intended to stall the opening of the pipeline with small leaks, but instead caused massive leaks. Maybe their intelligence was bad on how much explosives it would require to breach the pipeline, or perhaps they did not account for pressure differential or the explosive medium in the pipe. Destroying something is hard, “lightly” sabotaging something is probably harder.

Even this theory I discount. Russian could simply suggest they are aware of some leaks, but not disclose where they are or how bad they are. It would require significant effort to confirm or deny their statement, by which time they could say they fixed it or there was a measurement error. There is no need for them to actually damage the pipe.


I see some suggestions now circulating it was Ukraine. They sure would have the motive - by destabilizing European energy they could force the EU directly into the conflict, or at least have more funding as the EU uses them as a proxy to go to war with Russia.

In terms of capability, Ukraine’s Navy is known to have a single submarine from the 1970s, the Zaporizhzhia. It would in theory be capable of such an operation, had it not been seized by Russian forces in the 2014 annexation of Crimea. Unless they had another submarine we didn’t know about, or were given one, it is unlikely they were directly involved in this operation.

What’s more is that most of Ukraine is now surrounded by Russia to prevent interference in the area. So even if their Navy did have capability, they either somehow launched a submarine unnoticed (unlikely), or it was already at sea and has been ongoing since the start of the Russian invasion. The only sort of submarine capable of this is a nuclear submarine, and these are highly regulated.

Put simply, I doubt Ukraine has a submarine on hand. Ukraine has essentially been waging gorilla warfare this whole time, this would be a significant increase in their operational capability.

Competing Company

A competing company could be motivated to do this, but it would invite other companies to also sabotage their pipelines. There would be no end to this. What’s more is that it was not yet in operation, and therefore not a threat to their profits.

(Most of the) EU

Some have suggested that the EU itself did this. Given the energy crisis and their ability to either accept or not accept Russian gas, this seems like a strange idea indeed.

Maybe not all of the EU idea though.


The former defence minister of Poland tweeted:

Thank you, USA

This was quickly dismissed by Poland. But why may Poland not want the Nordstream pipeline to exit? Well, as Wikipedia suggests:

The environmental impact assessment started on 16 November 2006 when notifications were sent to Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany, as parties of origin (the countries whose exclusive economic zones and/or territorial waters the pipeline is planned to pass through), and Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia as affected parties.

By bypassing Poland, they didn’t get paid royalties for using their territory. As a result they missed out on a lot of money by not having the pipeline pass through, something they were quite angry about.

Poland’s secretary of state tweeted:

Russian #propaganda instantly launched a smear campaign against Poland, the US and Ukraine, accusing the West of aggression against #NS1 and #NS2.

Authenticating the Russian lies at this particular moment jeopardizes the security of Poland.

What an act of gross irresponsibility!

I don’t think it could be ruled out that Poland was involved, but it would be awful timing for them. It’s not as if they have a pipeline ready to take the work on and it’s not as if they are not also suffering from the EU energy crisis.

I believe Russia are simply spinning the story to generate confusion, a tactic that is often used by the Kremlin. If Russia had knowledge of Poland doing this, I would imagine they would share it.

I believe it is unlikely that Poland did it.


As you saw in that last tweet, Russia accused Poland (unlikely), Ukraine (incapable) and the US. Could the US be involved?

In an exchange between a reporter and US President Joe Biden:

Biden: “If Russia invades…then there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.”

Reporter: “But how will you do that, exactly, since…the project is in Germany’s control?”

Biden: “I promise you, we will be able to do that.”

This isn’t just the Democrats either. Republican Ted Cruz also did not want the pipeline to be constructed:

In December 2019, the Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson also urged Allseas owner Edward Heerema to suspend the works on the pipeline, warning him that the United States would otherwise impose sanctions.

On what grounds?

In January 2018, United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reaffirmed the policy, stating US and Poland opposed the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, for the same reasons of European energy security and stability.

Apparently it was with the aim of having energy security in the EU. It would certainly be in-line with Trump’s concerns for the EU, especially as many members are also G7, UN and NATO members.

Did the US blow up the pipeline? Maybe. I could imagine that the instability would help people flock towards the US dollar for stability, I could imagine it would increase demand for US-based energy, or being a quick win for Ukraine.

The problem with this idea idea though is that the pipeline was not yet in action, and the EU was already looking to decouple from Russian gas. Why take such a short-term high-risk when you could play the long game and not risk making your allies into enemies? They won’t thank you for high energy prices.

Another point, if they were to do it, why would they warn Germany about it?

CIA warned Germany weeks ago of coming attack on natural gas pipelines Nord Stream I & II (from Russia to Germany), reports Der Spiegel.

Russia could have pulled off such an attack but “It is difficult to see whether Russia or Ukraine could have an interest in such an incident”

“From Ukraine’s point of view, the permanent interruption of gas supplies from Russia to Germany would be a possible interest in the room. On the contrary, there would be immense political disadvantages that could arise from an attack.”

That really wouldn’t be smart, even for the CIA. Potentially they would have caught them directly in the act.

My big questions is: What on earth did they see or notice that made them so concerned?

To be fair, the US intelligence were very accurate in predicting the Russian invasion into Ukraine.


I think the UK has been too preoccupied with the death of the Queen to be able to stage such an act. It would be seen highly insensitive to stage such military operations straight afterwards.

Let’s also consider that such military operations would need to run through a government and a while to plan. It’s unlikely that our very new Prime Minister had time to stage such an operation, unless Liz Truss used the plan of Boris Johnson.

What’s more is that this will directly affect the UK’s energy crisis too.


This is one that I don’t see any discussion about, as it’s not obvious they could be a player in this game.

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine kicked off, China offered to mediate between the two parties. This was quickly dismissed by Ukraine and the West, and it became apparent that China supported Russia. This is because China would like to do something very similar in just a few years to Taiwan.

So why would China destroy the Nordstream pipeline? I can think of an insane number of reasons:

  1. Energy insecurity is causing instability in the EU. This benefits China as they are able to renegotiate trades and generally take advantage of this. They hold very few Euros at this point, so they will also unlikely lose much investment.
  2. Energy instability is already affecting manufacturing in the EU. The EU is somewhat of a manufacturing opponent, especially in areas such as automotive. In they can increase energy instability, as well as supply issues more generally, one of their largest competitors in this space will be gone.
  3. Energy instability is causing economic issues in the EU. This again creates a situation that China can take advantage of, by outbidding the EU, for example for food in the coming food crisis (expect this soon). Would an EU Country who is a member of the G7, UN and NATO vote in their favour for some favour in return? You can be they will.
  4. A distracted EU means less attention on China. This means that China will be free to bypass sanctions, increase pressure on Taiwan, make further progress in places like Africa, etc. The West so far has been their only opposition to global dominance.
  5. If there is conflict as a result, China can sell stuff to both sides as a “neutral” party. China has military equipment, electronics, weapons, etc, all ready to export at a moments notice. Most militaries will be ready to use it, with most of it cloned from Western hardware.
  6. China can debt trap EU members and secure themselves as a permanent superpower. If they do run up a tab they cannot pay, China can they use this to exert political pressure on the Country. For example, with 5G infrastructure, I’m sure they would have loved to have forced this in place.

These are just the reasons I can think of from the top of my head. China is more than capable of such actions too, a US submarine likely collided with a Chinese submarine last year as they like to sit in the same spots in the ocean. They are highly capable in oceanic operations.

I cannot rule them out at all. They have shown interest in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and have the motivation to make things worse. If they were discovered, they are well isolated enough from everybody involved that there would not really receive much consequence.

Other Country

Right now I’m not aware of any large capable players that could be involved.


All this said, it is almost impossible to tell. Maybe the US has a good idea of who it may have been by who was sniffing around the area, otherwise all direct evidence was likely destroyed.

If the US did know, they likely wouldn’t say if it was an ally, or if it was an enemy and they didn’t have a good method to retaliate, which would make them look weak. I definitely want to hear who the US believes it could have been, or from Germany regarding who they were warned about.

Anyway, like others, I’m hoping this just doesn’t play out into a WWIII situation. Call me soft, but I quite like the idea of not serving in the military to my certain death unless I really have to.