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Leonid Bershidsky

Nord Stream Sabotage Mystery Leaves All Infrastructure More Vulnerable

Knowing who was responsible for the pipelines’ disruption is key to preventing future attacks against essential undersea lines of communication and transport.

The truth is in there, somewhere.

The truth is in there, somewhere.

Photographer: Swedish Coast Guard via Getty Images

Last September’s explosions on three out of four threads of Russia-Germany gas pipelines, Nord Stream 1 and 2, are turning into conspiracy theory generators akin to the Kennedy assassination, the 9/11 attacks or, more recently, the Havana Syndrome that has afflicted diplomats from the US and Canada. As reports surface blaming the US government or a “pro-Ukrainian group”  that used a rented pleasure boat to lay hundreds of kilograms of explosives 80 meters deep in the Baltic Sea, clarity seems even further away than directly after the blasts.

It might be useful, then, to try to make a case for and against each of the three main versions, if only to understand once again how little information we have almost six months on — and how important it is to find out the truth and defend against further attacks. The destruction of the pipelines remains a scary precedent for an undersea infrastructure that includes, apart from various oil and gas pipes and power lines, a 1.3-million kilometer network of cables that transmit data on $10 trillion a day in financial transactions alone.

Version 1: The Russians Did It
Contrary to the obvious argument that Russia had no reason to destroy the most powerful blackmail tool it had against Europe in general and Germany in particular, Russia did have both plausible motives and the means to blow up the pipelines.