Over the last few weeks, a rumor going around the Internet said that something shocking would happen on the first night of Rosh HaShanah.  Rumors usually are nonsense, but this one proved to be all too accurate.  

On that night, the Nord Stream pipelines, used to bring gas from Russia to Europe, were blown up.  The gas delivered through the pipelines were crucial to European economies and businesses, essential for heating and producing electricity.  Those pipelines were knocked out.  The only sure thing anyone can say at this time is that they won’t be back on line any time soon.  Of course, investigations are underway to determine exactly what happened to them and who is responsible. 

It’s still too early to analyze the exact ramifications of this development, but clearly it’s going to have an adverse impact on the European economy, and by extension, on those of countries they do business with.  You can bet that experts are analyzing every bit of information available, and if it’s possible to identify the party responsible, there will be rapid retaliation.  

The possibility of these explosions being caused by human error or a technical problem has been ruled out.  The sections of the pipelines that sustained major damage were 70 meters (more than 210 feet) and 90 meters (more than 270 feet) below sea level, so nothing could have banged accidentally against them.  

Moreover, the pipelines were made of very thick steel and covered with steel-reinforced concrete.  Experts say the explosives were very sophisticated – either the type used a military or a very sophisticated terrorist organization.  The explosions were so powerful that they registered 1.9 and 2.3 on the Richter scale – essentially having the power of small earthquakes.  

“We can’t imagine a scenario that this isn’t a targeted attack,” one German government official said.  Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen was just as blunt.  She said her government believes the explosions “were caused by deliberate actions.”  Other European countries have echoed her sentiment.    

 

Who Done It?

There is a lot of speculation that Russia is responsible, and that in fact is whom the Ukrainians are accusing.  Ukrainian Presidential advisor Mikhaylo Podolyak said this “is nothing more than a terrorist attack planned by Russia and an act of aggression against the EU.”  

But Podolyak is not exactly an impartial observer.  It makes a lot of sense that Ukraine would push this scenario, because the more people who believe that Russia is responsible for carrying out such a horrible act, the more public opinion will turn to support Ukraine.  

But there’s also a very different theory out there that says Ukraine is behind the attack and are trying to frame Russia.

As in all good mysteries there are numerous suspects, and in this case at least one informed Polish official is pointing fingers at a completely different party: The United States.    

Radek Sikorski, a Polish member of the European Parliament and a former Defense Minister of Poland, tweeted, “Thank you, USA.”   

If this idea sounds utterly ridiculous, recall the following exchange in a press conference reported on ABC News before Russia invaded Ukraine.  At that time, President Biden said if Russia invades, “There will no longer be a Nord Stream 2…We will bring an end to it.”  When asked by a reporter how the US could do that since the project was under Germany’s control, Biden responded, “I promise you we will be able to do that.”  Several other US officials expressed very similar views.  

Biden’s comments obviously were referring to stopping the project through diplomacy and not military measures; nevertheless, some conspiracy theorists insist Biden’s comments should be taken literally. 

At this time, there’s a great deal of uncertainly about what lies ahead, but this much is clear: This is not the end of the story, but the beginning of it.  

 

Weaponizing Energy

Huge deposits of oil and natural gas have always been very valuable, but these days, with energy supplies in such demand, even smaller amounts are precious – and a strategic target vulnerable to attack.  That’s why incidents in Norway and Sweden are making lots of people nervous. 

With gas imports from Russia now halted, Norway has moved into first place as Europe’s top natural gas supplier.  Being in the lead is nice but it comes with risks, and this case is no exception.  Oil and gas rigs of Norway and Sweden have been “buzzed” by mysterious drones.  

According to Zero Hedge, Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority warned those drones “could unleash deliberate attacks on vital energy infrastructure or even crash into a helicopter on an offshore oil rig to wreak havoc.”  Already drones have come frighteningly close to several of Norway’s offshore platforms; one flew within 50 meters of one platform in the Norwegian Sea.   

 

“It’s His Fault”

Russia is screaming that they are victims of this sabotage.  The piping network that was bringing them tremendous revenues are destroyed, and even though shipments had been already been halted they could have been restarted easily enough.  Moreover, the political leverage the pipelines offered has been eliminated now.

The US is also upset, as the business Europe does with the US will be severely curtailed now.  Also, the chaos that has been unleashed in the EU could weaken the NATO alliance.  It’s very likely that whoever is responsible meant the sabotage to be a message; we have great technical capabilities and will stop at nothing.  The parties involved will certainly get the message. 

In any case, the explosions of the Nord Stream pipeline network have opened a new front in the conflict over Ukraine, and in this one, civilian infrastructure has become a target.  Fair or not, water, electricity, oil, and all infrastructure have become vulnerable and are now at greater risk of sabotage.  Unfortunately, this is something all of us have to be concerned about. 

Sources: bloomberg.com; washingtonpost.com; zerohedge.com


Gerald Harris is a financial and feature writer. Gerald can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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