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Economics

Where European Energy Infrastructure Is Vulnerable to Attack

After explosions on the Nord Stream system, the region is seeking to bolster security on pipelines and other undersea networks.

The landfall facility of the Baltic Sea gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 in Lubmin, Germany. 

The landfall facility of the Baltic Sea gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 in Lubmin, Germany. 

Photographer: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters
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On Sept. 26, seismologists detected a series of explosions that were quickly traced to the floor of the Baltic Sea. It soon became clear that the blasts had severed the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines linking Russia with Germany. Many in the business suspected Russian President Vladimir Putin was responsible—something the Kremlin denies, instead blaming “Anglo-Saxons.”

The damage highlighted the vulnerability of Europe’s energy networks, which came into sharper focus in the following weeks as radio cables in Germany were cut, halting rail service for hours, and Norway began detecting “abnormally high” drone activity near its offshore energy installations. “We have seen a number of very strange physical attacks,” says Evangelos Ouzounis, head of policy development at the European Union’s cybersecurity agency. “The energy network is vast, and you cannot protect it physically.”