Suspicion of "act of sabotage": The gas leaks reveal a weak point in Europe. There could be a calculation behind it

Many questions still refuse to have a reliable answer, but fewer and fewer believe in a technical defect or coincidence.

Suspicion of "act of sabotage": The gas leaks reveal a weak point in Europe. There could be a calculation behind it

Many questions still refuse to have a reliable answer, but fewer and fewer believe in a technical defect or coincidence. Instead, the suspicion is increasingly being voiced that the leaks in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines are due to an act of sabotage, i.e. a deliberate act that caused the sudden pressure drop in the pipes (read more about this here).

"All available information indicates that these leaks are the result of a deliberate act," said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borell on behalf of the 27 member states. Any deliberate disruption to Europe's energy infrastructure "will be met with a robust and collective response," he said on Wednesday.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had previously spoken of a "sabotage action", and the governments in Denmark and Sweden made similar statements. "It is of the utmost importance to investigate the incidents now and get full clarity on what happened and the reasons why," von der Leyen said.

One can only speculate about the background at the moment, and an author of the possible act of sabotage has not yet been identified. However, the process is already fueling uncertainty.

The leaks in the Nord Stream pipelines have practically no direct impact on Europe's energy supply. Nord Stream 2 has never been operational and gas has not flowed through Nord Stream 1 since August. However, the incidents show that Europe's energy infrastructure is vulnerable.

As early as June, the CIA is said to have warned several European countries, including Germany, that there could be attacks on the Baltic Sea pipelines. This is now also reported by the "New York Times", previously "Der Spiegel" had published the corresponding information from the US secret service. Were the warnings not taken seriously?

In any case, the pipeline leaks made it clear how vulnerable vital systems can be to external attacks, Julian Pawlak from the German Institute for Defense and Strategic Studies (GIDS) told the New York Times. The message behind the alleged act of sabotage could therefore be that "whatever you can do with an offline pipeline, you can also do with active pipelines, submarine cables or other infrastructure."

At least Poland therefore clearly sees a connection with the war in Ukraine. "We don't yet know the details of what happened there, but we can clearly see that there was an act of sabotage," Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Tuesday at the opening of the Baltic Pipe gas pipeline, which will bring natural gas from Norway via Denmark into the country . This act of sabotage is "probably the next level of escalation that we are dealing with in Ukraine."

According to information from "Welt", security circles consider it possible that the gas leaks could be a kind of warning shot and threat from Russia. The action should therefore show that Russia is able to destroy pipelines in the North Sea and Baltic Sea.

For its part, the government in Moscow was "extremely concerned". The "unprecedented situation" must be "urgently investigated," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. When asked if it could be an act of sabotage, he said "no" option could be ruled out. So far, so unclear.

So far, so unclear. Either way, gas prices rose again on Tuesday after widespread pipeline leaks. Was it the aim of the alleged saboteurs to create insecurity?

No matter who might be behind the possible act of sabotage: Experts are alarmed. Because while the leaks in the Nord Stream pipelines have had virtually no impact on Europe's gas supply, a similar attack on other pipes could prove fatal. Last but not least, deliveries from Norway are considered an important component of the European strategy to become independent of Russian gas.

The leaks should therefore make Europeans more aware of the need to secure such critical infrastructure, believes Julian Pawlak from the German Institute for Defense and Strategic Studies. "The security and military services have always been aware of this, but bringing awareness to all political circles is quite another matter."

This awareness should now grow. Sweden has already announced that it will have military resources ready. Norway also wants to step up safety precautions at its oil facilities after the gas leaks. And the topic should also pick up speed in Germany.

After the leaks in the Osteee gas pipelines, the FDP energy politician Michael Kruse believes that other pipelines need to be protected effectively. They must be protected against "sabotage and attacks", he told the German Press Agency on Wednesday, they are "of paramount importance" for the German and European gas supply. Pipelines and LNG terminals must be monitored, protected and secured against possible attacks day and night, Kruse demanded. "An attack on our energy infrastructure is an attack on our country and on the European Union."

Sources: "New York Times", "Der Spiegel", "Die Welt", with material from the news agencies DPA and AFP

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