Photo: Tintin and Snowy (Milou), from the Adventures of Tintin.

Mystery, Mystery: Who Blew Up Nordstream?

When news broke out that there had been explosions on the Nordstream 1 and Nordstream 2 pipelines, the former polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorksi (2007-2014), who is well connected to the Washington establishment, tweeted, “Thank you, USA”. He later deleted his tweet, saying he had expressed only a personal working hypothesis, implying that the United States was behind the attacks on the pipelines that carry gas to Germany from Russia.

Sikorski justified his conclusion by citing US President Joe Biden’s words on February 7 when he told a reporter the US would stop Nord Stream 2 if Russia attacked Ukraine.

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

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

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

As more and more people began to refer to that conversation in the wake of the Nordstream explosions, the White House felt compelled to “clarify” that President Joe Biden did mean that the US would destroy the Nordstream pipelines. He just promised to “not allow” it.

When Joe Biden promised he would stop the Nordstream 2 pipeline, the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was right next to him at the press conference. The President of the United States was making it clear that the Americans would have the last word about Nordstream 2, not the Germans.

According to a report by Danish and Swedish experts which was sent to the UN Security Council, the four leaks on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines were caused by explosions with the explosive force of “hundreds of kilos” of explosives.

The director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Sergey Naryshkin says there is evidence suggesting American/ NATO involvement.

“We already have certain materials, which point to a Western trace in organizing and executing this terrorist attack,” Naryshkin told journalists on Friday.

He said there were attempts to cover up the incident to protect the perpetrators.

“A number of Western nations launched a search for the ‘authors’ of this terrorist act pretty much the day after it happened,” he explained. “I believe the West is doing everything to hide the true executors and organizers” of the incident.

According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, “the scale of the destruction” caused on the pipelines suggest that the attack could not have possibly happened “without the involvement of some state power.”

Evidence

The attacks on the Nordstream 1 and Nordstream 2 pipelines occurred off the eastern and southern coasts of the Danish island of Bornholm, in international waters, but still very close to Danish and Swedish territorial waters. This comes just days after US warships participated in maneuvers in that area. At the beginning of August 2022, the ‘Amphibious Ready Group’ conducted exercises in the Baltic Sea.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, “The incident took place in an area controlled by American intelligence.”

NATO said Thursday that the pipelines were damaged in what it described as “deliberate, reckless, and irresponsible acts of sabotage.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova dismissed any allegations that Russia was behind the incident.

“May I ask you a question? When exactly did Russia decide it wanted to stop supplying energy to Europe?,” she asked.

Speaking at a press briefing on 29 October, Zakharova said NATO conducted exercises using deep-sea equipment in an area close to where the explosions happened.

Zakharova was referring to Exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 22 in the Baltic Sea, which took place in June 2022 off the coast of Bornholm island. According to the statement by the US Navy at the time, BALTOPS was meant to demonstrate the military bloc’s “mine hunting capabilities” by experimenting with unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUV).

The explosions on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines happened northeast and southeast of Bornholm island.

The explosive material that destroyed the pipes could not have been placed without underwater drones.

The USA?

Why did Sikowski thank the USA in his tweet?

The rumour is that Berlin and Moscow were involved in secret negotiations to resume gas deliveries through the Nordstream pipelines.

It is an open secret that the US has long attempted to stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project.

As early as January 27 2022, about a month before the war in Ukraine broke out, US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland made clear that for the US, the war and Nordstream were not two issues, but one and the same.

“As far as Nord Stream 2 is concerned, we are currently having very intensive and clear talks with our German allies, and I would also like to speak plainly to you: if Russia invades Ukraine one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not progress.”

Leaked RAND Paper: The War in Ukraine As a Controlled Crisis to Weaken Germany

In Germany, people are beginning to connect the dots between the war in Ukraine, the energy crisis, the attacks on the Nordstream pipelines and, why Germany out of all Europe appears almost to have been deliberately positioned to take the hardest hit from a war that does not concern it.

About 3 weeks ago, a leaked research report from the RAND Corporation marked “confidential” and addressed to the White House Chief of Staff, the Department of State and the CIA among others began circulating on the internet. The report, dated 25 January, outlines a strategy for “Weakening Germany, Strengthening the USA.” RAND has denied being the author of the paper, calling it a “fake”.

The paper begins by noting there is an “urgent need for resources to flow into the national economy, especially to the banking system”, because “the present state of the US economy does not suggest that it can function without financial and material support from external sources.”

“Only European countries bound by EU and NATO commitments can provide us with these without significant military and political costs,” the paper states.
According to the RAND paper, the “major obstacle” to this plan is the “growing independence of Germany” due to Brexit. With the UK out of the EU, it is more difficult for the US to influence European decisions. The US fears the prospect of German-French power duo in the near future which would turn Europe into “not only an economic, but a political competitor to the United States.”

The paper states categorically that the solution to increase the flow of resources from Europe to the US is for “Germany to experience a controlled economic crisis.” Noting that the German economic model is based on the pillar of “unlimited access to cheap Russian energy resources”, the plan is to get Germany to reject Russian energy supplies that would be “devastating for the German economy, and indirectly, for the entire European Union.”

“The only feasible way to guarantee Germany’s rejection of Russian energy supplies is to involve both sides in the military conflict in Ukraine. Our further actions in this country will inevitably lead to a military response from Russia. Russians will obviously not be able to leave unanswered the massive Ukrainian army pressure on the unrecognized Donbass republics. That would make it possible to declare Russia as aggressor and apply to it the entire package of sanctions prepared beforehand” (page 4).

For Germany to “fall into this trap”, the strategy depends on the “leading role of the green parties, “who are a strongly dogmatic, if not a zealous movement, which makes it quite easy to make them forget economic arguments.”

Under a section titled “Expected Consequences”, the paper reads like a prophecy of the present economic tragedy in Germany.

“A reduction in Russian energy supplies – ideally, a complete halt of such supplies – would lead to disastrous outcomes for German industry. The need to divert significant amounts of Russian gas for winter heating of residential and public facilities will further exacerbate the shortages. Lockdowns in industrial enterprises will cause shortages of components and spare parts for manufacturing, a breakdown of logistic chains, and, eventually, a domino effect. A complete standstill at the largest in the chemical, metallurgical, and machine building plants is likely, while they have virtually no spare capacity to reduce energy consumption. It could lead to the shutting down of continuous-cycle enterprises, which would mean their destruction.” (page 5).

What the Nordstream 2 Pipeline Means to the Americans

One of the reasons the US has opposed the Nordstream 2 pipeline is to sell expensive American liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe. With cheap gas from Russia, Europe has no reason to buy American LNG. Predictably, the sanctions on Russian energy have resulted in a boom for American LNG exports. In the first four months of 2022, the US shipped nearly three quarters of all its liquefied natural gas to Europe, with daily shipments having more than tripled from last year’s average.

But the chief reason for America’s opposition to Nordstream 2 is geo-strategic, which is why the US is prepared to go to great lengths to stop the pipeline.

For the US, the Nordstream 2 pipeline connecting Germany and Russia directly in what in time would become the world’s greatest free trade zone would in effect mean the end of its global dominance for the past 75 years. Because in order for the US to maintain its global primacy, it must be able to control Eurasia – the name given to the huge contiguous landmass of the two continents of Europe and Asia. For better and for worse, Eurasia has been the epicentre of global history.

With Germany already buying gas from Russia through the Nordstream 1 pipeline, the arrival of a second Nordstream pipeline bringing more cheap gas from Russia would have tied Eurasia’s two biggest economies even more closely, making them not only strong and mutually prosperous economic partners, but also inevitably, strong political partners. In short, Nordstream 2 signalled a dramatic shift of economic and political power to Germany and Russia in what would evolve into a new power order on the continent, with no place for the US, locked out by geography and economic decline.

Washington has always feared warm relations between Germany and Russia and worked to keep a wedge between two countries, in order to keep Germany within the orbit of American influence. The prospect of a German-Russian alliance poses the greatest threat to American hegemony. Germany and Russia have the potential resources, which if combined, would allow them dominate the Eurasian continent. If Germany can get along with Russia, a key instrument of American hegemony – the North Atlantic Alliance Organization (NATO) – would become obsolete, having been created as it was to protect against threats from Russia. The core of US policy towards Germany is to undermine all ventures that would make Germany more independent and closer to Russia. Accordingly, if the Russian threat did not exist, the Americans would have to invent it, because that is the supreme justification for US intervention in the politics of Germany and Europe.

How the US thinks about the strategic implications of the Nordstream 2 pipeline can be found in the book, “The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives” by former US national security advisor Zbigniew Brezinski. Nordstream 2 represents the path to a future in which Europe’s most important state, Germany and America’s old foe, Russia could cooperate economically and politically to dominate Eurasia. As Brezinski explains, Eurasia is geopolitically essential to US primacy because it has enormous resources.

“Not only is its western periphery—Europe—still the location of much of the world’s political and economic power, but its eastern region—Asia—has lately become a vital center of economic growth and rising political influence.”

In order to maintain its global primacy, it is therefore imperative for the US to control Eurasia.

“Hence, the issue of how a globally engaged America copes with the complex Eurasian power relationships—and particularly whether it prevents the emergence of a dominant and antagonistic Eurasian power—remains central to America’s capacity to exercise global primacy.”

“Eurasia is thus the chessboard on which the struggle for global primacy continues to be played, and that struggle involves geostrategy—the strategic management of geopolitical interests. It is noteworthy that as recently as 1940 two aspirants to global power, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, agreed explicitly (in the secret negotiations of November of that year) that America should be excluded from Eurasia. Each realized that the injection of American power into Eurasia would preclude his ambitions regarding global domination. Each shared the assumption that Eurasia is the center of the world and that he who controls Eurasia controls the world. A half century later, the issue has been redefined: will America’s primacy in Eurasia endure, and to what ends might it be applied?”

Brezinski states the heart of the matter unambiguously: “For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia.”

“Now a non-Eurasian power is preeminent in Eurasia—and America’s global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained.”

Nordstream 2 is the pipeline that would have set in motion the beginning of the end for this preponderance. A Germany cooperating closely with Russia, much like the US and Great Britain, is the only force that could threaten US primacy in Eurasia, and the world.

Leaked Draft of the Defense Planning Guidance (DPG): The US Wants to “Prevent The Re-Emergence of a New Rival.”

The core strategy for maintaining America’s global primacy was formulated in the early 1990s, at the apex of US power, by the Pentagon in a draft of the Defense Planning Guidance for the years 1994-1999, which was leaked to the press in 1992. The document states that the chief strategy of the US is “to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival.”

“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These regions include Western Europe, East Asia, the territory of the former Soviet Union, and Southwest Asia.

“There are three additional aspects to this objective: First the U.S must show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests. Second, in the non-defense areas, we must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order. Finally, we must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.”

Although the document was subsequently revised and polished to remove the blunt language following the public outrage over its imperialist plans, the same basic strategy persists to this day. In his foreign policy speech in 2016, former American president Donald Trump declared “Our military dominance must be unquestioned, and I mean unquestioned, by anybody and everybody.”

More recently, US President Joe Biden said the US had “fallen back”, and the other countries were catching up. In other words, American hegemony was in danger:

“GDP has declined constantly over the last 25 years. And we’ve fallen back. The rest of the world is closing in and closing in fast.”

The allegedly fake confidential RAND report states the same basic problem of US decline as the central premise for the strategy to weaken Germany in order to strengthen the USA. From the perspective of the Washington foreign policy establishment, the dilemma is not about how to find win-win formulas to regenerate the US economy but how to engineer controlled crisis in other countries, including war, so that the US can benefit from the flight of resources. The RAND research report states:

“The present state of the US economy does not suggest that it can function without financial and material support from external sources.”

“There is an urgent need for resources to flow into the national economy, especially the banking system. Only European countries bound by EU and NATO commitments will be able to provide them without significant military and political costs for us”.

“The major obstacle to it is the growing independence of Germany.”

The War in Ukraine is Not About Ukraine?

Is the war in Ukraine about Ukraine?

Viewed from Washington, Nordstream 2 is not just about a pipeline, it is about the advent of a new geopolitical order in which Germany and Russia are close partners and set the course of things without the US. Built deliberately to connect Germany directly to Russia without the need to transit through Ukraine, the Nordstream 2 pipeline laid the foundation for the arrival of a German-Russian power axis calling the shots in Eurasia, with the US locked out of the power structure.

That why the US has sought to stop the Nordstream 2 project at every turn. For the Americans, it is a question of survival.

It is not a coincidence that on February 22, two days before the start of the war, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced he was suspending the licence for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Scholz justified the decision by referring to Russia’s recognition of the People’s Republics of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent states on the same day.

The then White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that “@POTUS (US President Joe Biden) made clear that if Russia invaded Ukraine, we would act with Germany to ensure Nord Stream 2 does not move forward. We have been in close consultations with Germany overnight and welcome their announcement. We will be following up with our own measures today.”

Twitter screenshot.

Washington appears to have prepared for this.

The American strategy has been to use NATO-sponsored operations in Ukraine to provoke Russia into a war by attacking ethnic Russian in the Donbas region, and to retaliate with a package of sanctions prepared in advance to achieve two objectives: to drag Russia into a proxy war of attrition, and to stop the Nordstream 2 pipeline.

During 2021, the US dramatically escalated NATO operations in Ukraine, providing money, weapons and training to the Ukrainian army.

In early February 2022, days before the war broke out, the Ukrainian army, with US and NATO support, intensified shelling of the ethnic Russians in the Donbas region. The daily reports of the OSCE mission in Donbas indicated a dramatic increase in explosions, attributed to shelling on civilians by the Ukrainian army. Around the same time, Russia began receiving thousands and thousands of refugees fleeing the Donbas region in Ukraine, where the Ukrainian army had intensified shelling attacks on civilians.

What is Washington’s role in the military offensive on the ethnic Russians in the Donbas region in February 2022?

In early May 2022, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby revealed in an interview on the Fox News Show, Your World, that Washington had been “getting the Ukrainians ready for this kind of war over the last eight years” and “The United States, Canada, Britain, other allies really helped train the Ukrainians in small unit leadership, command and control, operational maneuver.” He added “the Biden administration was flowing in weapons well before the invasion. The first billion dollars that the president committed to Ukraine did include lethal assistance. And that was before Putin decided to move in.”

Kirby also spoke of how “With respect to Ukraine, the United States was literally leading the world in making clear what we saw Russia do since the fall in terms of amassing forces and their intentions to go into Ukraine. And we said it loud and clear from the podium here at the Pentagon and from all over town, as well as international capitals around the world and particularly in Europe. And not everybody believed us at the time, but we were very right about what Russia was about to do. And we also worked hard in the lead-up to that invasion.”

In January 2022, the USA introduced the Lend-Lease Act, which provided for the supply of military material “intended for Ukraine’s government and necessary to protect civilians in Ukraine from Russian military invasion”, even though at the time, the Ukraine itself said there was no threat of attack.

On 27 January, 2022, CNN reported on a “long and frank” call between Zelensky and Biden than “did not go well”, as per the words of Ukrainian officials.

Responding to Biden’s warning that a Russian invasion was nearly certain, Zelensky is reported to have countered that the threat from Russia remains “dangerous but ambiguous,” and an attack was not certain.

Zelensky reportedly asked US officials to “calm down the messaging,” because of the economic impact of panic, adding that Ukrainian intelligence disagreed with the US assessment of the risk level of a Russian threat.

In December 2021, after having sought a negotiated settlement to the tensions with Ukraine and NATO for the past 8 years, Russia made a final effort to resolve the crisis diplomatically by proposing mutual security guarantees with NATO and the United States, including NATO’s withdrawal from Ukraine and NATO’s renunciation of further eastward expansion. Russia warned it would take a “military-technical response” if the propositions were rejected.

On 24 February 2022, Russia announced a “special military operation” to de-militarize and de-nazify Ukraine.

By construing the war in Ukraine as an attack on a sovereign nation even though in actuality it was a counter-response to the intensified attacks of the Ukrainian army on the ethnic Russians in the Donbas region, Washington was finally able to make it politically impossible for Germany to continue with the Nordstream 2 pipeline.

The US and Nordstream: A Long Story of Sanctions and Sabotage

Washington’s determination to stop the Nordstream 2 pipeline has been remarkable. When political pressure and lobbying failed, the US began taking openly aggressive measures.

In August 2017, the then US President Donald Trump signed the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which was explicitly directed against the construction of Nord Stream 2. The law says :

“It is the policy of the United States to continue (…) to oppose the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as it is detrimental to the energy security of the European Union, the development of the gas market in Central and Eastern Europe and the energy reforms in the affects Ukraine; and that the United States government should prioritize the export of United States energy resources to create American jobs, support United States allies and partners, and strengthen United States foreign policy.”

The then Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern and the then German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel sharply criticized the draft law in a joint statement, stating it “describes with remarkable openness what it is actually about: the sale of American liquid gas and the displacement of Russian natural gas supplies from the European market. The aim is to secure jobs in the US natural gas and oil industry.”

“Political sanctions should not be associated with economic interests. And threatening companies in Germany, Austria and other European countries on the US market with penalties if they participate in or finance natural gas projects such as Nord Stream II with Russia brings a completely new and very negative quality to European-American relations. It’s about the competitiveness of our energy-intensive industry and about thousands of jobs. We therefore strongly support the efforts of the US State Department to change this bill.

Europe’s energy supply is a matter for Europe, not the United States of America!

We decide who supplies us with energy and how, according to the rules of openness and free market competition.”

The US doubled down and in 2019, Trump signed the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act (PEESA). The law provides for sanctions on companies and individuals involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, the TurkStream pipeline project and any successor projects. The objective is to prevent the completion and operation of the pipeline by targeting the ships and the people involved in providing the necessary services. The justification provided for the law is that “Russia uses its energy export pipelines to create national and regional dependencies on Russian energy supplies, leveraging these dependencies to expand its political, economic, and military influence, weaken European security, and undermine U.S. national security and foreign policy interests.”

In November 2021, the US announced new sanctions on the Nordstream 2 pipeline. At the time, the US had placed sanctions on a total of 17 ships involved in the construction of Nordstream 2.

Despite the barrage of US sanctions, the Nordstream 2 pipeline was completed in December 2021.

Who Benefits?

Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya, noted that the incident is of “unconditional” benefit to the United States. He was speaking at a meeting of the UN Security Council on sabotage against the Nord Stream gas pipeline.

He said that American liquefied gas suppliers “should celebrate a multiple increase in LNG supplies to the European continent.

At the same time, he pointed out that for Russia “it makes no sense to destroy the project with its own hands”, in which “colossal volumes of investments” were invested and from which “significant economic returns” were expected.

On 30 September, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that those who benefit from the deteriorating energy situation on the European continent are responsible for the sabotage against Nord Stream.

“But sanctions are not enough for the Anglo-Saxons, they have switched to sabotage — unbelievable, but true — having organized explosions on the Nord Stream international gas pipelines that run along the bottom of the Baltic Sea, they have actually begun to destroy the pan- European energy infrastructure. It is clear to everyone who benefits from this. Whoever benefits, he did, of course,” said Putin.

After the attacks on the Nordstream attack, US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm asked the American energy industry, including LNG tanker operators, to be on “high alert”. Washington is not discounting the possibility of retaliation from Russia, although for now, this remains unlikely.

Anecdote from the Forgotten Annals of History

In Germany, the reactions to the attacks on the Nordstream pipelines remain muted. The general inclination is to play down the significance of the attacks, and to entertain a feigned cluelessness about the perpetrator(s). A cover-up is more than likely, although the attacks on Nordstream may only be just one of many more moves to come, and the public pressure could eventually make the German government crack.

With the attacks on the Nordstream pipelines, it would not be the first time that Berlin would be reminded of the nature of its relations with Washington.

In his book “National Interests: Orientation for German and European Politics in Times of Global Upheaval”, former German Minister of Education Klaus von Dohnanyi recounts an anecdote about how Washington gets along with Germany. His point is that Germany must rediscover what he calls “national interests” and not allow itself to be dragged into American wars.

He remembers a NATO exercise in a bunker near Bonn at the end of the 1970s. At around 3 a.m. the Germans went to sleep. He says that when they got up two hours later, they learned that in order to defend Europe against the simulated Soviet attack, the US had dropped small tactical nuclear devices on Germany to start a cordon sanitaire against another Russian advance.

The Americans had done this without consulting the German government. From Washington’s perspective, Germany’s permission was not needed.

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