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Although the circumstances of the recent leaks in the North Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea near Bornholm are still not totally clear, the temporal coincidence of multiple leaks suggest that some kind of sabotage might have happened. So far, there is nothing reliable known about the origin of the responsive party. It's interesting to discuss who would stand to benefit from such a sabotaging action.

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  • A better question would be: "Who benefits most from this..?" To me it seems that it's mostly futile but maybe somebody would actually benefit. That would be much better answerable. Sep 28, 2022 at 23:12
  • @Fizz I voted to close? Hmm, asking for who benefits is definitely the better question because it could probably be able to be answered. Maybe I still found it a bit too speculative. If you would undelete I would probably vote to reopen. Sep 30, 2022 at 11:30
  • @Fizz "I know who did it because..." That's not what the question is asking. All answers listing countries and reasoning why would be equally valid. We cannot find out, who did it by typing and voting. Maybe people will understand that we're not even trying to find out. Sep 30, 2022 at 11:41
  • 1
    @Trilarion What's the difference between having a motive and benefiting? I get the impression that when some people (I can't see who) vote to close over here, it's akin to saying "I don't know"—hardly justification for closing, especially for what I see as a pretty good question. Surely somebody can make a reasoned argument?
    – Sam7919
    Sep 30, 2022 at 23:34
  • 1
    There is a flaw in this question. By asking about countries implicitly suggest that there might be a government behind it. But the sabotage might have been carried out by dropping a quantity of explosive from a boat. Many groups might have this capability, not only governments or intelligence agencies. Low grade mining explosive could have been sourced via commercial channels. So we cannot restrict the field of possible groups involved.
    – FluidCode
    Mar 8, 2023 at 13:47

7 Answers 7

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Let's talk about the two players here who could do something like this

The United States

The US pretty clearly could do something like this fairly easily. The US leads the way in underwater technology and has military assets in the region.

Why them?

  • The US sells natural gas, and destroying the pipelines would help accelerate the transition many European countries have been making towards adding liquefied natural gas(LNG) ship terminals.

    “Around 25 new FSRUs, according to estimates from S&P Global Platts, are now expected to be installed across the EU in the coming years, with the first facilities set to be operational already by the end of 2022 facilitated by a combination of political and commercial will in accelerating work,” Illardo said.

  • The pipelines were seen as helping to keep European countries (Germany in particular, where the pipelines terminate) from involving themselves too much with Russia

    By handing Putin such potential leverage over European energy security, it is argued, the 1,200 km pipeline leaves Free Europe at his mercy. If Putin wants a new Yalta, a new border settlement with Europe, then gas, and Europe’s dependence on Russian reserves, has become a means to achieve it. Nord Stream 2’s critics say it isn’t so much about creating additional capacity as it is about supplanting the main existing path for Russian gas to Europe, which runs through Ukraine.

Why not them?

  • US intelligence agencies warned many European allies this might happen. It would be strange to alert people to be on guard for an action you yourself are about to take.

  • LNG terminals mean anyone can sell you LNG. The US is not the only exporter of LNG.

  • It would damage NATO relations. The US is spending a lot on defending Europe and the US has gained more International goodwill

    Perhaps even more substantial, however, was the shift seen across those who had been more critical than supportive of the U.S. role. The views of that role in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden changed significantly over the past year, and all now have slightly more positive than negative views of the U.S. influence on global democracy.

    Denmark and Ireland went from negative to now being on the fence, while Spain, once directly in the middle, has now joined those more in support of Biden's democracy efforts than opposed. Spain, which was neutral last year, now sees the U.S. influence as slightly more constructive for democracy.

  • It would be strange for a president who is so environmentally conscious to intentionally release a ton of greenhouse gases

Russia

Why them?

  • Russia started a war with Ukraine. It's been trying to use natural gas supplies to discourage NATO members from interfering and Germany in particular wasn't going to play that game, canceling the Nord Stream 2 pipeline

    But following Mr Putin's order to send troops to the rebel-held Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, Germany announced it was suspending the process of giving [Nord Stream 2] between it and Russia an operating licence - effectively stopping the project until further notice.

    The move is notable as Russia supplies Europe with about 40% of its gas, sourced from vast supplies in Russia's east.

  • Russia is sending a message that they can destroy undersea assets. In particular, Russia has extensively mapped undersea Internet fiber cables

    In the worst scenario, an attack that cut submarine cables coming into the United States could significantly harm its access to the global internet. Ordinary users would probably experience massive losses in bandwidth, particularly for services such as Google and Facebook that host much of their data overseas. Since most government also relies on commercial internet infrastructure, the outages would also interrupt official communications. Any data hosted outside the U.S. would become nearly inaccessible to U.S. parties and vice versa. For people who depend on the internet in daily life, such an attack would be a national disaster.

  • The pipelines were shut down so Russia is not losing anything by destroying their own infrastructure

Why not them?

  • Russia made a lot of money from selling natural gas to Europe. While it was complicated by sanctions, exports were still up

    Higher oil export volumes, coupled with rising gas prices, will boost Russia's earnings from energy exports to $337.5 billion this year, a 38% rise on 2021, according to an economy ministry document seen by Reuters.

    The jump in revenues, if it materialises, will help shore up Russia's economy in the face of waves of Western sanctions.

  • There's no easy way to repair the pipeline either. This means Russia cannot sell Europe natural gas in the near-future in the event that Russia needs revenues in a post-war economy. Russia would have to contribute to any repairs.

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  • 3
    We're spending is not a very neutral way of discussing things :D More seriously: the arguments given for Russia are not very strong - apart from "sending message" these objectives could be achieved by simply closing the valve. Using it as an excuse for not supplying gas could be a reason... but since when Russia needs excuses? Ramping up gas prices is probably the most solid lead. Sep 30, 2022 at 14:48
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    Why are only two possible players considered? What about other big powers like China or energy competitors like Saudi Arabia or even sub-national terrorist organizations? What makes Russia or US more likely than others here? Just because they are big? Sep 30, 2022 at 16:52
  • 4
    @Trilarion If we were talking about a surface pipe it would be one thing. But you're talking about an undersea pipeline. If a ship did it, people would have noticed (boats don't move fast). That strongly suggests a submarine. Is it possible China did it? Sure. But you're assuming the Chinese sailed a sub halfway around the world just to wreck a pipeline that was turned off. Sure, there's all sorts of upshots for China, but they're small in comparison to the fact that they destroyed a multi-national pipeline, which is an act of war. That's a lot of risk for not a lot of gain.
    – Machavity
    Sep 30, 2022 at 17:09
  • How are "warning something might happen" and "making it happen" in anyway contradictory? Not that it happening and them warning is any good proof of them being in any way behind it. Sep 30, 2022 at 17:10
  • @Machavity And I don't think they would have had even flimsy excuses to push their sub all the way over there. Sep 30, 2022 at 17:12
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I will try not to name single countries in this answer but rather only discuss capabilities and possible motives.

The question of capability clearly depends on the way the sabotaging act was done (if it was one and not just an unfortunate coincidence).

If some explosive devices have been attached, they could have been attached by a manned submarine, by an unmanned special-purpose submarine or by themselves (devices could maybe swim/dive on its own), even by humans (diving) would theoretically be possible in this depth of ~80m. It could have happened shortly before the leaks occurred or weeks/months before, maybe even already at building time of the pipelines or a short time later.

At the position (South of Sweden, East of Denmark, North of Germany, ...) there is lot of maritime traffic. It will be difficult to check all previous recorded traffic in the area and the traffic might come from many different origins.

How difficult it is to get a submarine there undetected and back is difficult to judge. Danish and Swedish underwater detection system should be state of the art with naval bases not far away. A smaller unmanned special-purpose submarine may be easier to navigate there and back again undetected.

Judging by the capabilities, every nation with submarines might likely be able to sabotage these pipelines, others rather not (so most of African countries and most landlocked countries probably not).

Also just sending a single submarine from Japan, China or India to the Baltic sea for such a critical mission sounds like it would rather be too risky to be detected on the way, so maybe further limit the capabilities to nations bordering the Baltic sea and France, Great Britain and the US.

As for the motive: There is no immediate direct economic damage, although the repair costs would surely have to be paid by the trading partners (Russia and Germany) and a repair would delay any possible delivery of resources. However these pipelines weren't used anyways currently and it's rather unlikely they would have been used this winter (the war between Russia and Ukraine is unlikely to end quickly and public support for the support of Ukraine in Germany is still relatively strong).

Therefore the damage is foremost of psychological nature. It increases uncertainty and further drives up prices of resources, increases inflation and the like. Every nation exporting resources would probably stand to profit from an increased uncertainty.

That leaves us with Norway, US, Canada, Russia but rather not with France, Great Britain or Sweden.

The last issue I want to point out is that if eventually evidence about the origin can be obtained, the sabotaging nation would lose a lot in reputation. Norway, the US and Canada would probably not want to risk that. Russia however would have much less to lose, because their international reputation is already quite ruined. But it still doesn't make much sense to blow up your own pipeline unless you think all is lost anyway (and top Russian may already be thinking that) or as a very, very indirect threat.

Finally it should not be excluded that not a country, but some kind of terrorist organization has done an act of sabotage there. Before 9/11 hardly anyone would have believed multiple airplanes can be kidnapped. Detonating explosives on an underwater pipeline sounds thinkable and doable although the symbolism of it would be difficult to explain (pipelines are bad?) and there might be much more "profitable" targets for terrorists available.

Finally the US has the most advanced military in the world, so maybe it would be easiest for them, but they definitely have other means to restrict usage of the pipelines, should the need arrive later, so the US would hardly have a good motive. The Russian submarine navy is also quite extensive and they have more bases close to the location of the leaking pipelines but also for them the potential immediate military gain seems to be rather low.

Summary: I think there are quite a number of countries with the capabilities (in principle) but none really which would clearly benefit. It rather feels like an terrorist act or the act of somebody who has nothing to lose and acts partly irrational than a well-thought through military strike (if it was one).

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  • +1 The 9/11 lesson is clear: adversaries with little conventional strength will find unconventional avenues to multiply their force.
    – bishop
    Sep 30, 2022 at 23:11
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    FWTW "Sweden's energy minister said on Friday it was "very likely" that the attack on the pipelines was done on purpose by a state actor." and "Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday that the ruptures in the Nord Stream pipelines would not have been possible without a state actor's involvement." Ironically, this is one thing some in the West and Russia do agree about. Sep 30, 2022 at 23:42
  • And Finland's FM “Only a state actor is capable of this kind of sabotage. This is such extensive sabotage.” Of course, they could all be wrong, but still... Sep 30, 2022 at 23:55
  • The key point to this answer is adding up the pluses (if not caught) and minuses (if caught). That doesn't tell us who did it, but it does argue against making over-simplistic pronouncements. Oct 3, 2022 at 21:14
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Late 2023 update: according to an investigation by WaPo and Der Spiegel, they even narrowed down the Ukrainian special forces guy who was more or less in charge of the op, some colonel. Essentially the piece claims that Zaluzhny might have ran the whole op without informing Zelensky about it.

Roman Chervinsky, a decorated 48-year-old colonel who served in Ukraine’s special operations forces, was the “coordinator” of the Nord Stream operation, people familiar with his role said, managing logistics and support for a six-person team that rented a sailboat under false identities and used deep-sea diving equipment to place explosive charges on the gas pipelines. On Sept. 26, 2022, three explosions caused massive leaks on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which run from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea. The attack left only one of the four gas links in the network intact as winter approached.

Chervinsky did not act alone, and he did not plan the operation, according to the people familiar with his role, which has not been previously reported. The officer took orders from more senior Ukrainian officials, who ultimately reported to Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s highest-ranking military officer, said people familiar with how the operation was carried out. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive details about the bombing, which has strained diplomatic relations with Ukraine and drawn objections from U.S. officials.

[...]

But the Nord Stream operation was designed to keep Zelensky out of the loop, people familiar with the operation said.

“All of those involved in planning and execution reported directly to [chief of defense] Zaluzhnyy, so Zelensky wouldn’t have known about it,” according to intelligence reporting obtained by the CIA that was allegedly shared by Jack Teixeira, a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, on the Discord chat platform. Officials in multiple countries have said privately they were confident that Zelensky didn’t personally approve the Nord Stream attack.

Interestingly that colonel is already in a Ukrainian prison, accused of running some other ops with not so clear authorization, although he says he's just the fall guy for those.

AFAICT, no official reaction from Germany [or any other of the countries conducting officially conducting an investigation] on that. But back in August, Germany said they were still hoping to formally indict someone.


Well, in a nutshell, both Russia and at least some parties in the West have pointed fingers at each other, with press headlines like "Russian spy chief: West was behind sabotage of Nord Stream " or "‘Only Russia’ could be behind Nord Stream leaks, says former German intel chief".

Russian sources more specifically allude to the US as possibly having done this since the US was opposed to the construction of the pipes in the first place (at least of NS2 rather adamantly).

"US President Joe Biden must answer the question of whether the United States carried out its threat on September 25 and 26 when an emergency was reported at three lines of Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2, which has been preliminarily recognized as ruptures, whereas he suggested those were blown up," the Russian diplomat said on her Telegram channel. On it, she posted a video in which the US leader delivers the speech in question.

"His statement of intent was backed up with a promise. One must be responsible for one’s words. Failure to understand what one says does not absolve anyone of responsibility. Europe must know the truth!" Zakharova emphasized.

Tucker Carlson has argued that same point at length, e.g. that "you'd have to be a suicidal moron to blow up your own energy pipelines [that] give you leverage over other countries", whereas "Joe Biden suggested on camera he might take out these pipelines." And he was rebroadcast on Russian TV.

And Putin has (a bit later) directly accused the "Anglo-Saxons" of having done this:

"The sanctions were not enough for the Anglo-Saxons: they moved onto sabotage," Putin said. "It is hard to believe but it is a fact that they organised the blasts on the Nord Stream international gas pipelines."

Some Western sources claim Russia may be interested in a false flag operation too since they have significantly reduced exports to Germany already, e.g. that "former German intel chief" (Gerhard Schindler) said:

The halt in gas supplies can now be justified simply by pointing to the defective pipelines, without having to advance alleged turbine problems or other unconvincing arguments for breaking supply contracts.

Additionally some Western newspapers (NYT) claim that

Both lines of Nord Stream 1 were damaged, whereas only one of Nord Stream 2’s lines was ruptured, which means that, at least theoretically, gas could flow through the second line.

Gazprom has confirmed this now, although they said they need to do a safety inspection on the (NS2) pipe that still had pressure/gas in it, so they are depressurizing it ATM.

In connection to that, in mid-July, amidst the NS 1 stoppages, Putin said that NS 2 was ready to deliver gas to Germany, despite the fact that it wasn't given German approval, while Germany insisted on Russia accepting the repaired turbine for NS 1.


As for capabilities, it's probably a bit premature to discuss since we don't know the exact methods used. According to one Western site, the pipes are only at around 50 meters depth around Bornholm, which would enable a fairly low-resourced attacker to carry this out.

The same Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said the damage was in a zone where the US has "full control", meaning the EEZ of Denmark and Sweden. Western sources say that despite that proximity, Russian navy operates in this region as well, e.g. Denmark protested against an alleged Russian corvette intrusion in its territorial waters back in June in roughly the same area. (Russia denies that took place.)

As for how the US might have done it, from what I can tell Russian officials insofar have been vague (or if they've been more explicit, there's no coverage of them in English that I could find talking about means--although Naryshkin promised to reveal details at a later time.) On the other hand unofficial/suspected Russian sources/proxies like SouthFront and the US socialist website Monthly Review pointed to the USS Kearsarge, which was on tour in the Baltic Sea until recently. The Permanent Representative of Russia at the UNSC, Vassily Nebenzia, has now (Sep 30) mentioned Kearsarge's presence, and added

Most interestingly, the ship’s helicopter squad started patrolling the area around Bornholm as early as in August, and the flight line of those aircraft surprisingly coincided with the pipeline route. I emphasize that this is open data on geolocation of sea and air transport which is collected on the basis of the transponders’ signal. It means that the United States did not conceal its presence in the area and completed its maneuvers in an exhibitory and ostentatious way.

The latter source, MR, which published its piece one day before Putin explicitly charged the "Anglo-Saxons", also speculates that the Poles may have been involved, due to the proximity of their shore/bases, with or without US participation. They cite John Helmer for the latter variant, saying that "The explosions at Bornholm are the new Polish strike for war in Europe against Chancellor Olaf Scholz." (Poland doesn't have too good of a relationship with Germany right now, on a range of issues stemming from EU "rule of law" and their various forms of pushback, including war reparations.) Gazprom executives have complained in the past that the Polish navy was allegedly interfering with the pipeline laying process, although Poland denied that was the case.

There's also this rather interesting bit in Der Spiegel, which seems to be the only source I've seen that claims to know the exact contents of the CIA warning to Germany

The Germans were warned in summer by the CIA about a possible attack scenario on the Nord Stream pipelines. U.S. intelligence claimed to have intercepted Russian communications in which concerns were expressed about possible Ukrainian attacks on Western infrastructure. The Ukrainians allegedly tried to rent a boat in Sweden for this purpose. The CIA did not consider the scenario of a Ukrainian attack to be very credible, but the mere fact that the possibility of an attack on Western infrastructure was mentioned by the Russian side prompted the Americans to warn the Germans about the scenario.

It would have been quite a feat if Ukraine actually managed that. The same source mentions that the BND was also looking into Russian underwater robots that could have travelled all the way from Russia.

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  • Were there any contracts broken (or reduced and stopped) on the supply instead of demand side? Sep 30, 2022 at 17:14
  • Well... Being a "suicidal moron" is not outside of realm of possibilities.
    – Zeus
    Oct 7, 2022 at 2:01
  • There's a new article published by WSJ today saying that Ukraine is responsible, but also implying that Poland is complicit. The article is paywalled, but someone posted the text here, reddit.com/r/europe/comments/191u5oe/… in case you want to add to answer.
    – Allure
    Jan 9 at 4:08
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Not really an answer, but I've been actively learning Russian since ages ago and know a lot about Russia (see, e.g., this answer of mine), and I see some interesting indirect signs pointing to Russia. Let me start with this news:

Глава «Газпрома» Алексей Миллер сообщил, что не знает, как и зачем восстанавливать поврежденные нитки «Северного потока», если турбины для него находятся в нерабочем состоянии. (Source)

Here's my translation:

Head of Gazprom, Alexey Miller, has said that he doesn't know how and why to repair the damaged pipelines of Nord Stream, given that its turbines are non-operational.

For those who don't know, Germany actually begged Russia to accept a repaired turbine, but Russia used a formal pretext to refuse. This means that by the time of the incident, Russia had already demonstrated its lack of interest in keeping Nord Stream working.

And here's what Putin himself said about the incident (as translated into English on the official Kremlin website):

The attack on the Nord Streams has set an extremely dangerous precedent, which shows that any critical piece of transport, energy or communications infrastructure is under threat, regardless of its location, management or whether it lies on the seabed or on land. (Source)

Make no mistake - when the Russians feel wronged, they are very angry and vocal about it, and they retaliate in one or another way. The principle of reciprocity is a cornerstone of their foreign affairs. For Russians, getting wronged and doing nothing about it is tantamount to losing face. Putin is vengeful. And the reactions by Miller, Putin, and Russian news media, which are largely state-controlled, indicate that the Russians aren't really angry. There's no outrage. Putin's words can be seen as a veiled threat, "We did this and can do the same to Western pipelines."

I have very little knowledge about the investigation of the incident, but Russia's reaction looks very different from how I believe Russia would react to what it actually believed to be an external attack on its infrastructure.

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    This is very much an answer and points out that which most people overlook: There was no gas flow through Nord Stream before the incident and intentionally so. Russia decided not to deliver through NS1 anymore. It also fits pretty well with only one pipeline of NS2 being destroyed and Putin offering deliveries through that one. It would mean Germany would have to give up their position on NS2 and essentially display weakness which can be used domestically in propaganda efforts. Oct 13, 2022 at 5:15
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One country with a motive that was not mentioned in previous answers is Ukraine. Already in 2014, the leader of Ukrainian nationalists threatened to destroy the pipeline for Russian gas supplies to Europe:

Yarosh threatened to destroy the pipeline for Russian gas supplies to Europe

The leader of the radical nationalist Ukrainian "Right Sector*" Dmitry Yarosh said that his organization, in the event of a possible conflict with Russia, would destroy the pipeline through which European countries receive Russian gas.

Yarosh made a threat to "destroy the pipe", because with its help "Russia earns money by distilling oil and gas," RIA Novosti reports.

Yarosh also demanded that the new leadership of Ukraine urgently form the headquarters of the Supreme High Command, declare a general mobilization of the population, take weapons deep into the country, and ensure the supply of weapons from NATO member countries.

As shown by the strike on the bridge in Crimea, Ukraine has the capability to make such attack.

Other answers have mentioned Russia, but the motives mentioned in those answers do not make much sense. The pipeline is more or less Russian property and Russia was the only country that wanted to complete this project. Destroying your own property does not make much sense. The only motive Russia could have is to use it as a false flag operation similar to the Gulf of Tonkin incident by the USA. Russia could then just blame Ukraine and use it as a pretext to start a war. Since there is already a conflict between Ukraine and Russia which can be called a war, this is not likely. Also, when talking about capability, the incident happened in NATO territory, so to get there for Russia would be problematic.

Even the NY Times is talking about a connection to Ukraine.

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  • Why DV? Ukraine is certainly one of the suspects; one doesn't need to invoke fringe extremists to see its potential benefits. There are plenty of arguments against too (as well as there are some reasonable arguments for Russia: we shouldn't forget that the added income from higher gas prices has more or less paid for the entire NS2 already), yet it should be mentioned.
    – Zeus
    Oct 13, 2022 at 0:46
  • @Zeus I have not completely excluded Russia, just the reasons they might have are defenetly diferent and even Zeleski has expresed in one of his actual interviews to german TV similar Thoughts.
    – convert
    Oct 14, 2022 at 13:02
  • can you define "ATAC"? I know only one ATAC, and given their disorganization, I don't see them attacking pipelines or bridges (not to mention it's not really their purview)
    – Federico
    Mar 8, 2023 at 13:14
  • @Federico You should ask the user who edited my post.
    – convert
    Mar 8, 2023 at 13:30
  • FTWT, according to the FSB, Ukraine bombed the bridge by shipping the explosives through Russia disguised as rolls of plastic foil. It's none too clear if most of the people allegedly involved in moving those even know the exact nature of the materials, or thought they were contrabanding something else. I suppose we'll find out the details in the trial, if one can trust the Russian justice system. Getting a bomb down deep in the sea doesn't seem to require the same skill set though, although who knows, if they somehow shipped/filled a pipe segment or support full of explosives... Mar 8, 2023 at 13:37
0

Note that I am not proposing this as the most likely explanation, just one possibility that has not been mentioned in other answers.

First, Russia has several times since the start of the war taken action to reduce supply via Nord Stream under the guise of "technical difficulties"; Europe claimed that these were a pretext and that the reduction in supply via Nord Stream was a deliberate action.

Russia might believe that they could benefit from cutting off supply via Nord Stream by being able to put pressure on Europe to bring an end to the Ukraine-Russia war sooner by agreeing to Russia's terms for ending the war (whatever those may be from time to time).

There are three major sets of routes through which gas is (or was) delivered to Europe from Russia: the two biggest are the Baltic Sea pipelines and through the Ukraine, with the set through Belarus being a much smaller player. (In fact, the Belarus route has regularly shut down, and even gone into reverse at times.

enter image description here

Removing the Baltic Sea route reverts the situation to something like that pre-Nord Stream 1, where the majority of Europe's gas from Russia (66% in the infographic below) transits Ukraine:

enter image description here

If Russia believes that Europe cannot significantly wean itself off of Russian gas, and most of that gas once again needs to go through Ukraine, a slowdown or stoppage of gas flow there (whether "naturally" due to the war or deliberately via Russian action that they blame on the war) creates pressure to end the war sooner rather than later. Given that it seems from the past few months that supporting Ukraine to better allow it to continue fighting is to the advantage of Ukraine and the disadvantage of Russia, Russia may see creating this situation as potentially advantageous to them.

Note the big "if" in the paragraph above; if Europe manages to wean themselves further off of Russian gas, shutting down Nord Stream may be of little help. Europe has been taking steps to do this but is not fully committed (Hungary being a particular example of lack of commitment).

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  • Perhaps one of the downvoters could explain the issues with this answer? Is it not possible that Russia believes that Europe can't wean itself off Russian gas? Is it incorrect that taking out Nordstream means that most Russian gas to Europe goes through Ukraine (again)? Is it not possible that Russia could blame slowdown in gas flow through Ukraine on the war?
    – cjs
    Oct 2, 2022 at 10:10
  • Not my DV, but how recent if your AFP graph? I think France consumed much less Russian gas even in 2021 than that graph says. Oct 3, 2022 at 1:53
  • @Fizz The figures are pre-2012 as the information is to demonstrate the general proportions of Russian gas coming through the Ukraine in the absence of Nord Stream. It's certainly true that this general approach won't help Russia if Europe weans itself off of Russian gas; thus the big "If" in my last paragraph. (I think that Europe probably can live without Russian gas, but that just may be hope on my part; Hungary for example currently seems to disagree.)
    – cjs
    Oct 4, 2022 at 0:39
  • @Fizz On further reflection, this also raises the fact that, even if stopping Nord Stream is not a Russian action, Russia has unilaterally cut down supplies via Nord Stream in the past, claiming technical difficulties that Europe argued were a pretext. I've updated the answer to mention this.
    – cjs
    Oct 4, 2022 at 0:52
-1

There are political forces in Russia aiming to end the war more or less along Ukraine terms (by completely removing the army of Russian Federation out of the territory this country as it is most commonly recognized), see this answer. We do not know how much support do they have.

The Nord Stream I and II are capable of bringing huge money, especially if both are fully opened. This money can be used in a number of ways, from paying reparations for Ukraine till raising the living standards in Russia itself, to make sure the new government will be liked. EU may opt to support a new government by just paying for the gas they need to buy somewhere anyway.

Hence the destruction of the pipeline could have been ordered by the current government of Russia, even if it would be against the interests of this country. With the goal to make more sure there is no fast way back.

Gas pipelines have "mechanical pigs" that can move inside the pipe for inspection and maintenance. It may be possible that they can be used to deliver explosives anywhere along the pipeline. Only the country with full access to the pipeline could use this way to destroy it. Baltic sea is quite shallow and and ships/submarines attempting to deploy explosives would have been detected. Recently The Guardian also mentioned these maintenance robots,

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  • I didn't DV, but that PIG is pretty huge. If they sent that through the pipe, there's no way the explosion would have obliterated it, so parts of it would be found. Too conspicuous. If it was blown from inside, sending something smaller would have sufficed. Sep 30, 2022 at 23:00

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