Controversy over the beneficiary when the Nord Stream pipeline is paralyzed

The governments of European countries as well as Russia have said that the incidents with the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines off the Danish island of Bornholm are not natural, but most likely sabotage.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has opened an investigation into “international terrorism” after noting “deliberate acts of damaging gas pipelines near Bornholm island… significant economic harm to Moscow”.

Anders Puck Nielsen, a researcher from the Royal Danish National Defense University’s Center for Marine Operations, questioned the series of leaks that occurred around the time Norway opened the Baltic Pipe for gas. country to Poland via Denmark. The pipeline also runs through the Baltic Sea, like the Nord Stream system.

With a capacity of 10 billion m3/year, Baltic Pipe is expected to contribute to enhancing energy security for Europe. Polish President Andrzej Duda said the Baltic Pipe had been a Polish dream for decades, while Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said “the era of Russian gas dominance is coming to an end”.

“Perhaps someone wants to send the message that something is also possible with the Norwegian gas pipeline,” he said.

According to Puck Nielsen, a leak of hundreds of millions of cubic meters of gas in Nord Stream could cause more turmoil in the European gas market and cause energy prices to rise further. He said the party most likely to benefit from these chaos is Russia, which is looking to use gas as a lever to increase pressure on the West.

According to experts, the leak in the Nord Stream pipelines has not immediately affected Europe’s energy supply, but will still deal a heavy blow to a number of European countries such as Germany, which depends on the European Union. heavily on Russian gas and is preparing to enter a cold winter.

However, Shen Yi, a professor at the School of International and Public Relations at Fudan University, China, disagrees. According to him, if Russia wants to cut off gas supplies to Europe, Russia has a much simpler way to close the valve, instead of “blowing up” its own pipeline, because Moscow has a better advantage in handling the crisis. energy.

“Technically, it is unreasonable for Russia to self-sabotage the pipelines that it has invested in and built in the Baltic Sea,” he said.

Experts also point out that installing explosives in the Nord Stream pipeline system is also not an easy task. This pipe is made of concrete coated steel, with a thickness of about 12 cm, designed to be “unbreakable” under normal conditions.

Lion Hirth, a professor of energy policy at the Hertie School in Berlin, said it would be difficult to access the pipelines at a depth of 70 meters on the seabed. “Damaging two undersea gas pipelines requires a lot of effort, so it can only be an act of one state,” he said, ruling out the possibility of a terrorist attack or an attack. single crime.

For a modern military, the area is “ideal for the deployment of mini-submarines,” a senior French military official told the news agency. AFP. Divers can also be sent to the bottom of the sea to plant explosives, or self-propelled mines or unmanned submarines can do the same.

“They are fixed targets, so the job is not too complicated for a modern navy,” the French military official said.

According to Shen, since the Cold War, the NATO navies and their allies have regularly operated in the Baltic Sea with many advanced surveillance equipment. “How can Russia blow up the pipelines easily, when in fact this is not favorable for them?” he asked.

Kremlin spokesman on September 28 also denied the accusations against Russia. “Both pipes were full of gas, ready to be pumped, and they were very expensive. Now they’ve all evaporated,” he said.

Some other Chinese experts believe that in the Nord Stream pipeline leak, the US is the beneficiary. Washington can achieve three goals: weakening Russia’s energy exports to put pressure on its economy, limiting energy supplies to Europe, thereby forcing it to buy more fuel from America with higher prices and strict control of the energy supply lifeblood of European countries.

It may take a long time before authorities in the countries involved find out who is accused of leaking two gas pipelines. This period of “information blank” will be an opportunity for the parties to take advantage of increased pressure on each other, experts warn.

The United States has long pressured Germany to reduce its dependence on Russian gas. US President Joe Biden said shortly before Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine in February that if Moscow moves in, “I promise you we will put an end to their pipelines.” “.

However, Hirth said that “it is hard to imagine a NATO member doing this, even though the pipelines are so important to Russia”.

Currently, analysts only agree on one point that the attack on Nord Stream is related to the Ukraine conflict. It is also certain that the damaged pipelines will add further pressure on the European economy, which is already hungry for gas to make up for the short supply from Russia.

“This is a stark reminder of how vulnerable our energy infrastructure is,” said Hirth, an expert from Berlin. According to him, whoever is to blame, the leak could put an end to all hopes of Russia resuming gas supplies to Europe.

Vu Hoang (Theo AFP, Al Jazeera, Global Times)

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