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The Nord Stream Project and the Mysterious Sabotage

Updated: Mar 17

The Nord Stream is a multi-billion dollar project composed of undersea natural gas pipelines. The project is a joint effort between Russia and Europe that aims to stimulate both economies and provide cheaper energy to Europe. It is 51% owned by Gazprom, a state-owned Russian company, and the rest is owned by a combination of German, Dutch and French corporations. Work on Nord Stream 1 began in 2011 and became operational in 2012. The project was beneficial for both Western Europe and Russia. Europe has historically been lacking in natural resources, especially energy. 


The Nord Stream pipeline provided a diversification for European energy sources as well as lowered its overall cost. It also became effective in stimulating the European and Russian economies and bringing Western Europe and Russia together through a joint effort and an increase in economic overlap.


The pipeline was highly effective in its goals, to say the least. So much so that the Nord Stream 2 was approved almost immediately after the construction of the first one. After Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, however, sanctions were placed on Russia by Europe, reducing the flow of gas through the pipeline. Eventually, by 2018, the sanctions had worn enough that the second pipeline was finally approved for construction. By September 2021, it was finished and awaiting approval for operation. 


Then in October of 2021, Russian troops assembled along the border with Ukraine. This buildup signaled a potential invasion but was claimed by Russia to be a drill. The U.S. claimed it had intel that Russia intended to invade. In early February 2022, President Joe Biden said “if Russia invades ... Ukraine again, then there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.” 


Then on February 24, 2022, Russia commenced its invasion of Ukraine; it is the largest conflict in Europe since World War II. Immediately, Europe and the U.S. sanctioned Russia as much as possible. This included halting the flow of gas in Nord Stream 1 and pausing approval of Nord Stream 2.


Then, on September 26, 2022, pressure loss was detected in a section of Nord Stream 2. It was soon discovered that a bomb had been detonated on the pipeline. The U.S. blamed Russia, Russia blamed the U.S., and Europe remained largely quiet. In late 2023, U.S. media reports alleging Ukrainian special operators had coordinated and carried out the attack. 


While no one knows for certain who is responsible, the attack was very significant for the future of Europe's political landscape and energy market.

 

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