Who Sabotaged NS1 and NS2?

You have undoubtedly heard of the “mystery leaks” of the Nordstream 1 and Nordstream 2 pipelines that carry gas from Russia to Germany. Multiple sources are stopping just short of declaring that the pipelines have been sabotaged. Let’s assume that’s the case.

Whodunnit? I think there are several candidates:

the United States

just to name a few. Multiple sources have claimed that the United States sabotaged the pipeline with various motives being presented to explain it. The Ukrainians among other sources believe that the Russians sabotaged the pipelines. Again various motives. I’ve seen some claims that Poland was responsible. It’s not clear to me what Poland’s motive might have been other than to give Germany no choice other than to stop Germany from buying Russian gas.

Ukraine might have been responsible for similar reasons to those suggested for Poland.

And there’s an outside possibility that Germans might have sabotaged the pipelines.

It also might be the case that the culprit is deferred maintenance. That sounds pretty likely to me. Although it might be possible I think it’s unlikely that any actor other than a government engaged in deliberate sabotage. The pipelines are too deep for scuba divers.

10 comments… add one
  • bob sykes Link

    The Russians and Germans are not suspects on the cui bono principle.

    That leaves the US and Poland. Biden has already threatened to destroy the pipelines if Russia invaded Ukraine. Poland, which has a psychotic, revanchist government, and which is already arguing with Germany over reparations, is the prime suspect.

    In any case, this is an attack on Russian infrastructure by a NATO country.

    Russia’s options are: (1) destroy the Norwegian pipe, which just opened today (quelle coincidence!); (2) destroy trans-Atlantic cables; (3) do nothing. The last is probably the best choice, because it lets the Polish-German disputes fester and grow. The possible outcome is the collapse of EU/NATO as the European economies descends into a major depression.

  • steve Link

    I think the bigger question is how did one of the 4 areas in the referendum come under 97%. Rumor has it Putin called the local comrade in charge of the election in Kherson and asked him to find just 11,000 more votes so that area could also come in at over 97%.


  • bob sykes Link

    There is no reason to doubt the validity of the referenda or that large majorities (more than 75% at least) support reunification with Russia. The oblasts have large ethnic Russian majorities; were actually part of Russia until well into the Soviet era; and have been subjected to 8 years of artillery bombardment by the Kiev regime.

    If their referenda and Crimea’s are invalid, so was the Kosovo referendum.

    You’re making Putin sound like a Democrat election official: “Let’s stop the count until we can print up some more ballots.”

  • Actually, there is a reason to doubt them. They are incredibly different from the polling data done earlier in the year.

    At least one of the following must be true:

    – the polls were wrong
    – the referenda are wrong
    – opinion has changed since the polls were taken

  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    The one problem with the polls or referenda — who should participate?

    Something like 1/3 of the pre-2014, pre-2022 population of these areas live in Russia.

    Probably another 1/3 to a 1/4 moved to other areas of Ukraine and quite possibly out of Ukraine altogether.

    The polls earlier this year likely excluded all the residents that moved to Russia; while the referendum included those but excluded all those who moved “overseas” or to other areas under Ukraine jurisdiction.

  • That is a problem with all of Ukraine’s elections since 2014. The Yanukovich government was elected in an election certified as free and fair by international observers including Jimmy Carter. Not only has no more recent election been so certified but the more recent elections have excluded ethnic Russians (in Crimea for example).

    That’s a problem not unique to Ukraine. I have raised it as an issue in previous sovereignty elections including Kosovo and Spain. What is the unit of measure of sovereignty? A city and its exurbs? A square mile? A single block?

  • Andy Link

    At this point, any speculation is just a guess. We can whittle down a short list based on an imperfect assessment of capabilities to do something like this, but that list is still potentially long. But I would not include Ukraine on that list unless they were working with another government. They simply don’t have the ability to do this unassisted.

    I would just urge people not to jump to conclusions or confirm their own biases. There is no actual evidence pointing to any particular country, so any conclusion is – at best – premature. Looking at capabilities and potential motives is not dispositive.

    This reminds me somewhat of the British murder/detective shows (my wife constantly watches them), which all follow the same format. A crime is committed. The initial investigation shows many people have a potential motive and many people have the potential capability. We’re still in the first 5 minutes of an hour-long episode.

  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    This article analyzing the event from the Guardian was interesting.


    The takeaway is it did not involve much technical capability at all. Investigators don’t believe a submarine was involved or was required. If the speculation is correct that it could be done with mines deployed from a commercial vessel — that could be almost anyone; including Ukraine.

  • Andy Link

    Good article Curious, that does expand the potential actors and would include Ukraine.

    It would still need some specialized expertise and equipment.

    At this point, I’m certain that governments are comparing lots of historical information – radar data, AIS, various satellite data – and any ship that was near that area in the past several months will be investigated.

    In my early days in the Navy (mid-1990’s) one of my jobs was tracking commercial ships of interest. These were state-owned vessels or contracted ships that we believed were transporting arms and such. We were pretty good at it way back then, and the resources available now are much, much better.

    I’m also sure some open-source sleuths are looking at the public AIS traffic.


  • Steve Link

    Lots of countries had some motives to do this but they are all mixed with every country having reasons to not do it. They weren’t active and IiRC Russia had already announced they would not use them this winter.


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