As winter approaches, Russia’s war against Ukraine has entered a sensitive phase. This has made Europe more sensitive to the lack of natural gas supplies. Against this backdrop, Elizabeth Brau, a senior fellow at the American Corporate Public Policy Institute, prepared an analysis published on the Defense One website. In the report, she covered the recent explosions in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines that transport Russian gas to Europe. The researcher suggested that perhaps Russia also participated in this attack that falls under the category of “gray war”, that is, non-military attacks that do not require self-defense and thus cannot be deterred or attacked by military means.
According to pictures of the scene of the Baltic leak released by the Danish Armed Forces on September 27, local time, these leaks are not ordinary, because the “Nord Stream” No. 1 and No. 2 natural gas pipelines simultaneously leaked gas in the Baltic Sea. The day before, government agencies in Denmark and Sweden found several mysterious explosions under the sea. Now, these explosions are clearly Russia’s destruction of its own natural gas pipelines. Because it will cause long-term damage to the Baltic neighbors. At present, the marine environment of these neighboring countries has indeed been seriously damaged. Destruction of natural gas pipelines cannot be regarded as military aggression, while environmental damage is a deceptive act that falls under the category of “grey aggression”. As with all attacks of this type, this is militarily difficult to deal with.
Signs of the problem first appeared around 2 a.m. local time on Monday, September 26. At the time, marine seismometers at the Swedish Naval Command and Danish naval authorities detected a mysterious explosion on the seafloor. About 12 hours later, the crew of one of the ships reported an apparent gas leak on the water. Then, around 7 p.m., the monitors caught more explosions. And more than an hour later, more leaks were reported one after another. Apparently, the explosion and the spill happened in the same area.
Seismologists and Scandinavian political leaders agreed to confirm that the bombing was intentional. So who did it? In theory, the perpetrators could be terrorists or other political extremists. But these people lack the expertise to plan such sabotage. At the same time, they have no definite reason to devote so much energy and time to this ineffective sabotage.
In fact, the blame is on the Russian government. As European countries cut Russian gas imports, these pipelines are underutilized anyway (Germany refused to approve the Nord Stream 2 pipeline). Beyond that, Moscow is trying to intimidate the West. In September, senior Russian officials to Vladimir Putin repeatedly wielded nuclear weapons in an attempt to intimidate Western governments into halting military aid to Ukraine. However, these intimidating rhetoric did not work. So Russia appears to be trying a new strategy of undermining the Baltic Sea, a small and heavily polluted sea. In addition to the damage caused by merchant ships, Kaliningrad, a province of the Russian Federation between Poland and Lithuania, has long had a history of pollution. Because for years, Russian enclaves have been dumping sewage into the sea despite pleas from Russia’s neighbors on the Baltic Sea. In 2016, the sewer network jointly constructed with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency was put into use. However, most of the Baltic’s ecological hotspots are still located not far off the coast of Kaliningrad and St. Petersburg.
And for now, the pollution is only going to get worse because of the gas leak. Jako Hintonen, a Finnish marine environment expert who has been involved in ocean cleanup in the Baltic states for many years, points out: “Methane, the gas mainly present in the Nord Stream pipeline, is 29 times more polluted than carbon dioxide. And according to The scale of the leak is being reported so far. The methane pollutes the air much more than the water. And Moscow deliberately releasing such a dangerous gas seems to be sending a signal that Russia will not only harm Neighboring countries, as well as hurting the rest of the world. Also, as Hintonen told me, “a gas leak could cause an explosion, so any navigational activity near the affected area should be prohibited”. Also, this may A conundrum for any clean-up team members the Baltic states may soon set up.
Destroying another country’s environment is a simple and inexpensive move, and can often be done without harming the environment of the implementing country. Most of Russia’s coastline is far from the Baltic Sea, so the ecological destruction of the Baltic Sea will not have much impact on the country.
So far, the Nord Stream 1 and 2 spills have not been a huge environmental disaster. As in the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, about 42,000 cubic meters of oil spilled into Alaskan waters. But the environmental damage caused by the recent spill will force Sweden, Denmark and any other Baltic states to do what they can to remedy, if they can. Like overfishing in other countries’ waters, although a natural gas leak in other countries’ waters can cause similar damage, it is not as tragic as a military attack. Since this is not a military aggression, it is theoretically impossible to take self-defense measures. Nor would they blow up any pipelines that might be located near Russian waters.
Actually, destroying the environment is a smart move, but at the same time it is still a very insidious grey attack. Because a political system like Russia is very unjust, let alone North Korea and Belarus. So we can expect more of this to happen next. The “North Stream” No. 1 and No. 2 pipelines will also have more leaks.
This report has been translated from the Defense One website and does not necessarily reflect the position of this website.