Nord Stream pipeline leaks raise suspicions of sabotage

Mason Wiegand ’25

On September 27, 2022, both Nord Stream pipelines 1 and 2 ruptured, spewing natural gas that quickly rose to the surface and covered more than a kilometer in size. Through the next few days, Danish military patrols of the Baltic Sea would discover four leaks in total. The pipes in question connected some of Russia’s natural gas fields to Germany, Russia’s largest consumer of natural gas. Nord Stream 1 accounted for 55% of German natural gas usage and over 15 billion dollars worth of resources flowed through the pipe per year. Nord Stream 2 was under construction, but progress had been halted after Russia went to war against Ukraine. 

Prior to these attacks, the EU, NATO, and other countries individually placed sanctions on the Russian state due to the war in Ukraine. These sanctions provoked Russia into closing Nord 1 and cutting Germany off from the Russian resources they needed. These actions were taken in the hopes of pressuring the west into lifting the sanctions. Russia appears to have escalated its efforts since then.

Multiple seismic anomalies were detected by the Royal Danish Navy on the night of September 27, 2022. Bjorn Lund, director of the Swedish Seismologist Network, suggested that what was detected were clear signs of a man-made underwater explosion. He is one of many that adamantly claim this was a sabotage on the Nord Stream gas lines, which raises the question of who could have sabotaged the pipes. 

The war against Ukraine has been dragged out far beyond what the Kremlin anticipated.

Mason Wiegand ’25

The West immediately accused the Russians of attacking their own lines. It may seem counterproductive for the struggling Russian economy to destroy one of its largest revenue generators, but Russia has a good reason. Gazprom, the Russian state-controlled gas company, shut down Nord 1 on August 30, 2022. Since then no maintenance has been done on the line and Germany has been denied their gas. The war against Ukraine has been dragged out far beyond what the Kremlin anticipated, so when a desperate Moscow found the reason to attack their own pipelines, they took it. 

If any damage was to be done to the pipeline, then the EU must lift some restrictions on Russian gas and oil in order for the lines to be fixed. If Moscow was indeed behind these attacks, then their hope was to provoke the EU into escalating the situation and lifting sanctions to get the lines fixed. Russia, as the largest energy supplier for Europe, has been weaponizing its monopoly in energy in hopes of continuing conquests in Ukraine.