29 September 2022
Cogito Ergo Non Serviam
The Nord Stream pipelines bring natural gas from Russia to the EU. Yesterday, the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines began leaking. In all, there are four leaks in three different pipelines (Nord Stream 1 consists of two distinct pipelines despite its name). The odds on this happening spontaneously verge on zero. Swedish military installations recorded two distinct underwater explosions in their waters. Clearly, there was sabotage. Russia is pointing fingers at NATO, but it is Russia that committed this act of environmental terrorism. The Kremlin has a motive, revenge.
None of the damaged pipelines were in the process of delivering gas to the EU. Those that compose Nord Stream 1 have been shut down since the beginning of the month. Nord Stream 2 never went into operation. However, there was gas in both, so the explosions have released methane into the atmosphere. Methane is much more efficient than carbon dioxide at holding in heat, so the attack has been one with environmental damage. Estimates suggest the damage is the same as adding 1 million cars to the EU fleet and driving them around for a year.
The German newspaper Tagesspiegel stated that German intelligence sources believe the pipelines have been ruined beyond the point of repair. The paper adds, "Technical experts say the pipelines will become harder to repair once all of the gas has escaped and they fill with seawater and start to corrode. \'Ice plugs\' blocking the pipes could further hamper repair works."
Apologists for the Russian aggression claim that Russia could not possibly have done the deed because, in doing so, it loses its leverage over the EU. This sounds plausible at first blush, but a moment or two of consideration will show that Russia was the only state with a motive.
The destruction of the pipelines has nothing to do with the delivery of natural gas to the EU. If this were merely a matter of business, both sides would be pushing to get the pipelines open. This, however, is about politics. The West has an interest in keeping the pipelines viable. Turning off the tap to pressure Russia is more effective if the potential carrot of turning it back on remains a possibility. Russia, on the other hand, is only losing future revenue (paper gains) by destroying the pipelines. It was making no money from them, so nothing really changes. The elimination of the pipelines takes away the ability of the West to influence Russia.
More importantly, this destruction of infrastructure in NATO waters was a deliberate show of Russian capacities. They may not be able to stop a Ukrainian infantry platoon, but they can blow stuff up. President Zelensky could vacation on the beach in Ukrainian Crimea next summer, but Russia can still act like a nihilist power in taking out European power installations, communications and other needed infrastructure items. It is a desperate act by a desperate regime. Looked at through that lens, it makes perfect sense.
In addition, by getting rid of the pipelines, he is separating Russia from the West. When his war is over, if it ever ends, he does not want Russia to be in a position where NATO or the EU can influence his economy or polity. The fewer ties with the West, the better. And he can always sell his gas, coal and oil elsewhere (India and China have helped out quite a bit in this regard).
Vladimir Putin has few options left, and none of them is particularly attractive. His army is retreating. His economy is dead in the water. His people are protesting his draft. Blowing up the pipelines was one way in which he could flex his anemic muscles. It is the sign of a weakened dictator.
© Copyright 2022 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.