The Nord Stream pipeline sabotage and Implications for European Stability


    On September 26th major leaks at the Nord Stream 1 & 2 (NS 1 & 2) pipelines were detected in international waters outside Swedish and Danish territory. The events are claimed to be the effects of deliberate sabotage, which has future implications for stability in Europe. During the course of the Russia-Ukraine war, Russia used its energy resources as means to pressure European states. The sabotage of NS 1 & 2 follows a pattern of energy cuts as well as sabotage on pipelines in hostile settings dating back to the Mozdok-Tbilisi pipeline in 2006. Further, the alarming energy situation in Europe may enhance destabilisation among European states and likely create splits.

    KJ1: It is highly likely that the conducted sabotage will be followed by further disturbances in the Russian gas flow to Europe in the next 12 months.

    • Looking back, Russia was accused of the explosion of the Mozdok-Tbilisi pipeline in 2006 [source], as well as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline in Turkey in 2008 right before the Russia-Georgia war [source].
    • Russian energy cuts is a strategy of using energy as a weapon [source].
    • Over the past year, Russia has cut its gas supplies to the EU by 88%, and prices of gas in Europe have more than doubled over the same period [source].
    • On September 28th Gazprom announced that it could impose sanctions on Ukraine’s Naftogaz meaning further supply cuts via Ukraine [source].
    • On September 29th Russian operators of TurkStream said the Netherlands has withdrawn its licence but the gas flow will continue temporarily [source].
    • On October 1st Gazprom announced that gas flow through Austria had been suspended [source].
    • On October 3rd eastward gas flow via the Gazprom partly owned Yamal-Europe pipeline stopped [source].

    KJ2: It is likely that Russian military presence in the Baltic Sea will increase in the next 12 months.

    • On September 28th The Russian security service FSB said the sabotage is investigated as international terrorism [source].
    • On September 30th Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya, claimed that an investigation of the sabotage would be impossible without Russia [source].
    • Nebenzya further claimed that the sabotage is perceived as “a deliberate sabotage against a crucial element of the Russian Federation’s energy infrastructure” [source].
    • On October 14th Sweden announced that the plans to set up a formal joint investigation will be rejected. The decision is based on confidential information linked to Swedish national security [source].
    • As the sabotage took place close to but not in Swedish or Danish territory [source], there are juridical aspects to be considered. Sweden has no power to prohibit Russian presence at the explosion sites [source].

    KJ3: It is likely that the energy deficit will destabilise relations within the European Union in the next 12 months.

    • The EU has been struggling to promote coordination among its members facing a crisis, which was most evident during the split strategies in response to the covid-19 pandemic [source; source].
    • There are split reactions among EU member states on the organisation’s proposals to tackle the energy deficit [source].
    • On September 29th the German government announced a €200 bn energy package to relieve rising energy costs [source].
    • The German relief package has met broad criticism among EU member states as the country is blamed for trying to handle the energy crisis alone [source; source].
    • On October 30th the EU approved the first emergency package intended to curb rising electricity bills [source].
    • On October 3rd Hungary reached a deal with Gazprom for continued gas supplies during the winter [source].

    Intelligence Cut-Off Date: October 19th 2022

    Oscar Rosengren
    Oscar Rosengren
    Oscar Rosengren is a student at the Swedish Defence University in Stockholm. His main focus area is the Sahel Region and West Africa. Specific interests are asymmetric threats, mainly terrorism, covert action, and cyber threats.

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