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Why Russia would blow up its own pipeline

Gas leaking from the damaged pipes in the Baltic Sea

It seems a safe bet Russia was behind the apparent sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines, says Mark Galeotti in The Spectator. The big question is why. What’s the point of blowing up your own infrastructure, especially when neither pipeline was actually pumping gas to Europe at the time? The answer may well be that Vladimir Putin is sending a warning to the West. He wants to signal he’s willing to hit foreign pipelines and “other undersea assets”, in particular the underwater cables that serve as the “arteries of the global internet”. The safest way to do that, without risking retaliation, is to “hit your own”.

Russian submarines and Spetsnaz (special forces) have no shortage of targets. It is surely no coincidence Nord Stream was hit just before the opening of the new Baltic Pipe between Norway and Poland. A strike on underwater internet cables wouldn’t put us offline for long, but even a temporary disruption would have “substantial economic impacts – and potentially even greater political ones”. How stiff will the West’s anti-Russia resolve be if our Netflix keeps going down? “Other targets might come into play, too.” Cyberattacks; hitting the West’s supply lines to Ukraine – everything is on the table. With Ukraine winning on the battlefield, Putin clearly feels “he has to do something” to get the West to change course. If the price of that is bombing your own pipelines, so be it.

😱 The Nord Stream sabotage may create “one of the worst natural gas leaks ever”, says The Guardian. One pipe reportedly contained as much as 200,000 tonnes of the potent greenhouse gas methane, equivalent to the annual emissions of a million cars.