Investigators across Europe, including intelligence agencies, will now try to piece together who and what caused the apparent explosion. This could involve multiple steps, such as checking data about the area, including seismic data and other sensors, checking whether any communications around the event had been intercepted, and checking the pipeline for any signs of deliberate damage.
Neither pipeline is running – Nord Stream 1 was suspended for maintenance in August, while Nord Stream 2 was not officially opened in February after Germany withdrew support ahead of a full Russian invasion Ukraine in late – but both pipelines are loaded with natural gas. All three leaks occurred near the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, relatively close to each other. The island is bordered by Denmark to the west, Sweden to the north, and Germany and Poland to the south. The spill occurred in international waters, but also in the exclusive economic zones of Denmark and Sweden. “The water in this area is very shallow, about 50 meters on average,” said Julian Pawlak, a research assistant at Helmut Schmidt University and the German Institute for Defense and Strategic Studies.
Security message Sources have speculated that if the attacks were intentional, they could have been carried out by unmanned underwater drones, by ships dropping or laying mines, by divers, or even from inside pipelines. “We still don’t know what the origin of these explosions is or where they came from — whether they came from outside or from inside the pipeline,” Pawlak said. In a process called “pigging”, cleaning and inspection machines can be transported from Russia to Germany. It is possible to repurpose pigs to launch attacks.
Back in 2007, before the first Nord Stream pipeline was built, a review of the project by the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI) warned about possible risks surrounding the pipeline in the context of terrorism explosion occurred. “Despite the concrete coating, the pipeline is fairly fragile and a single diver is enough to set an explosive device,” the report said. “However, the impact of such an attack is likely to be fairly mild, and it is likely that a small incident of this type will not result in a major explosion. .”
“They [Russia] have the capability to conduct underwater operations with divers, small submarines and drones,” Hansen said. However, identifying any responsibility is not necessarily straightforward. The relatively shallow depth of the area around the Nord Stream pipeline means it is unlikely that any large submarines will be operating nearby, as they are easy to spot.
Pawlak said any vessel in the area could have detected other vessels that could cause damage. Seafloor sensors can also spot movement in the area, but it’s unclear where these systems are. “Still not the whole Baltic Sea is full of sensors, NATO knows every movement,” Pawlak said. On the surface, but especially at the bottom of the sea, it is still impossible to know, in every ti me, in every place, what is moving ,what happened. ”