After the Nord Stream pipelines were sabotaged in a series of explosions, it triggered worldwide concerns about the security of critical infrastructure in Europe. People are concerned that pipeline sabotage could open a Pandora’s box, putting key global infrastructure such as oil and gas pipelines, and underwater communications cables in great danger.
Such concerns have been confirmed by what happened recently. In less than a month, a barrage of mysterious attacks have taken place across Europe. The underwater internet cables in Norway, France and UK were cut off, and the railway cables in Germany were broken. All these incidents occurred after the explosions of the Nord Stream pipelines. It has not yet been confirmed whether these incidents are related, but the frequency with which they occurred is notable, indicating an increase in the number of hybrid attacks across Europe.
Accidents or sabotage?
On October 19 and 20, three key undersea cables in the southern France connecting the city of Marseille to Lyon, Milan, and Barcelona were severed. Theses damages reportedly caused widespread internet connectivity problems in Europe, Asia, the US, and potentially other parts of the world.
Jay Chaudhry, CEO of the cloud security company Zscaler Trust, claimed that the damage to the cable in France was an “act of vandalism”.
While in the United Kingdom, according to BBC, an undersea cable linking Shetland to Scotland was damaged around the same time as the southern France incident. The Shetland disruption took place while technicians were still working to restore another cable from the Faroe Islands to Shetland that was severed a week ago. The two separate incidents left much of the islands isolated from the rest of the world.
Páll Vesturbú, head of Faroese Telecom told the BBC that it was unusual to have two incidents simultaneously. “We expect it will be fishing vessels that damaged the cable but it is very rare that we have two problems at the same time,” Vesturbú told the BBC.
However, it is hard to say who was behind the submarine cable incidents. The cause of the incidents remains unknown and local and global investigations are underway.
On October 8, the railway cables were deliberately cut at two different locations in Germany, according to the German Transport Minister Volker Wissing.
And just a few days earlier, on October 4, the seabed internet cable between Henningsvær and Svolvær in Lofoten, Norway was broken. The reason for the damage still remains unknown.
Who destroyed the Nord Stream pipelines?
Despite various assumptions made by the media, there are tstraws in the wind pointing to the United States. Below are three types of circumstantial evidence that you may want to know:
– The US government and its intelligence agency has showed obvious intention before the incident.
As early as February 7, 2022, the U.S. President Joe Biden in a joint conference with Germany Chancellor Olaf Scholz threatened: “If Russia invades, then there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.”
At the same time, Victoria Nuland, a senior diplomat in the Biden administration, issued Russia much the same warning, telling reporters: “If Russia invades Ukraine, one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward.”
Weeks ahead of any incident being reported around the Nord Stream pipelines, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) warned the German government that there would be attacks on Nord Stream gas pipelines, reported by German newspaper Der Spiegel.
– A series of suspicious operations of the US Navy have been widely detected.
In early September, a US Navy Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk helicopter (Flight FFAB123) spent hours loitering over the site of the damaged natural gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea near Bornholm for several consecutive days. Its flight track was exactly the same as the pipelines leaks route.
On September 14, The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), flagship of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), and Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) arrived in Gdynia and Gdansk respectively. Both the location are in Poland and near the sites of pipelines explosions.
On September 26, at 00:03 GMT, just hours after the first explosion to the Nord Stream pipelines, a P-8A Poseidon aircraft flew over the North Sea. According to tracking date reviewed by Reuters, the aircraft flew a number of regular racetrack-shaped circuits above Poland before breaking away towards the Baltic pipeline area. Although that US Navy spokesperson indicated that the aircraft was conducted a routine Baltic Sea maritime reconnaissance flight, it is still under suspicion whether the P-8A Poseidon aircraft was conducting a post-damage monitoring task.
– Credible suggestions were made by political and academic figures.
After the pipelines explosions, Douglas McGregor, a 69-year-old retired US Army colonel and former adviser to the head of the Pentagon during Donald Trump’s presidency said in an interview: “We need to see which countries have had the opportunity to do this. And here we are talking about the Royal Navy of Great Britain, and the US Navy. I think this is quite obvious”.
Jeffrey Sachs, the influential economist and UN advisor, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University told the Bloomberg: “I would bet the explosion was a US action, perhaps US and Poland”. And he added that there was sufficient evidence to verify the speculation that is was done by US, such as the radar evidence of the US Navy, the threat by Biden, the remarkable statement by Blinken and so on.
Security concerns are now exacerbating
It is unusual to have multiple cables incidents occurred in such a consecutive manner, especially after the deliberate mass destruction of the Russian undersea gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea last month, which is an attack conducted out of unprecedented insanity.
The participant in a two-day EU Summit in Brussel condemned the acts of sabotage against critical infrastructure such as the Nord Stream gas pipelines and promised a united and determined response, says the final statement on the EU summit, in which there is no mention of either responsibility for this crime or its investigation. Why are they unwilling to tell the truth? Are they afraid to name the real culprit?
With all these incidents, it is no doubt that the energy crisis in Europe will further intensify, and the situation will continue to deteriorate. However, what people cannot make sure is that once the Pandora’s box is opened, what new horrors in the game of great powers will emerge. With the bottom line of competitions or conflicts continuously lowered, it may further open a new battlefield for them, turning the whole world into a state of panicky volatility sooner or later.