The leak from Nord Stream 2 and a pressure drop in Nord Stream 1, which happened at the same time as the opening ceremony of the Baltic Pipe may be a coincidence or a continuation of Russians using energy for blackmail. Energy terrorism also comes into play, for which Poles must be prepared – writes Wojciech Jakóbik, editor-in-chief at BiznesAlert.pl.
The LNG terminal in Świnoujście and the Naftoport in Gdańsk are Poland’s and the region’s windows to hydrocarbons outside Russia. The Baltic Pipe, which was opened on 27 September, is a new addition to this list. The pipe will start delivering natural gas on the 1st of October, the first day of the new gas year. The news about leaks from Nord Stream 2 have now coincided with this event. This pipeline did not launch, because Germany blocked its certification and the Americans sanctioned its operator in response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine in February 2022. However, it was filled with gas to prepare for launch, and the Kremlin’s bullhorns in the West are convinced that opening it will stop the energy crisis. The energy crunch is fueled by Russia, which has been decreasing gas deliveries to Europe since the summer of 2021. The incident at Nord Stream 2 may be the next stage of this operation, seen as preparation for war and now as a way to paralyze the West’s response to the invasion of Ukraine.
Another argument is the sudden drop in pressure in Nord Stream 1, which also does not pump gas to Europe due to an alleged malfunction of the Portovaya compressor in Russia, resulting, according to Gazprom, from sanctions preventing its servicing. These vicissitudes did not prompt the Russians to increase supplies through Ukraine as much as possible, even though they paid for access to the capacity there, and this is another confirmation of the these actions being deliberate. The Polish windows to the world, which already serve the whole region, may be closed due to various incidents. The editor-in-chief of the Energate portal believes that the problems of Nord Stream 1 and 2 are Russia’s sabotage. The German federal government is already investigating the Nord Stream 2 leak. One of the hypotheses is an attack by forces associated with Ukraine to induce deliveries through its territory. The second involves a false flag operation by Russia, which wants to sow confusion and drive gas prices. The latter option would be consistent with the logic of de-escalation by escalation, which has moved from the battlefield to Russia’s Gazprom, which is raising prices, causing more upheaval in the gas market.
However, at this point there is no proof that would confirm this claim, apart from numerous instances of Russia using energy terrorism in the past. The Russians have been cyber-attacking Ukraine’s energy sector, blowing up its connections with Crimea, carrying out numerous provocations using the occupied Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, and accusing their opponents of the same. Just recently the Federal Security Services accused Ukraine of preparing a sabotage operation against Turkey’s gas and oil transmission infrastructure. The Ukrainian Pravda quotes Ukrainian intelligence, which warns that Russia may conduct mass cyber-attacks on energy sectors in Poland and the Baltics. When it comes to Ukraine itself, all of this may be about slowing down the Ukrainian counteroffensive and hitting the civilian population in order to incite them against the authorities in Kiev. At the same time, NATO’s eastern flank may expect at least DDos attacks that will limit access to web portals. However, it remains to be seen if in this era of escalations Russians will take more decisive actions, which may or may not be heralded by the series of incidents on the Baltic Sea, which coincided with the opening ceremony of the Baltic Pipe. I repeat my warning from June 2021: Poland must especially protect the Baltic Pipe, the Gdańsk refinery, naftport and the LNG terminal, because Russia’s energy terrorism may spill over into our territory as well.