The Internet abounds with conspiracy theories regarding the sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines. But only Moscow has real benefits, at least indirectly, believes Miodrag Soric, who signs an opinion in Deutsche Welle.

Nord Stream pipes are made of steel and coated with cementPhoto: Stefan Sauer / DPA / Profimedia

The Kremlin has indignantly rejected accusations that Russia was behind the sabotage of gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea. Just as Putin states that Russia would not have started a war in Ukraine. Or that his country would not attack civilian targets in Ukraine.

Putin also called the accusation that Moscow uses energy as a weapon a “load of nonsense.” It should not be forgotten that Putin and his Foreign Minister, Lavrov, denied before the attack on Ukraine that they intended to do this, saying that it was mere malicious speculation. These days, they claim that in the pseudo-referendums in eastern Ukraine, everyone was in favor of incorporating those territories into the Russian Federation. And the list of lies could be continued.

Where is Russia’s calm?

When the Russian government now denies any responsibility for the “incidents” in the Baltic Sea, no one takes it seriously. The current Russian leadership has long since lost any credibility or trace of seriousness. All that remains is the fear that she will lose power, lose the war against Ukraine, and be held accountable for the crimes she committed. It is a fear that manifests itself in hysterical cries and wild threats against the West. But if Russia is so sure of its victory over the civilized world, why has it lost its composure to such an extent?

On the battlefield, things are not going according to Moscow’s plans. On the contrary. A small army compared to Russia’s, but highly motivated, makes Moscow’s military apparatus a laughing stock. And everyone, including China, sits and watches. Even with this alone, Putin has long-term undermined Russia’s authority. If even the Ukrainian military is superior to the Russian army, what can we talk about China, Turkey or many other countries? Putin’s effort in recent years to be perceived at least from a military point of view on an equal footing with the US has pulverized in the Ukrainian steppe.

Who does it use?

Given that it will be weeks before we know more about the underbelly of the act of sabotage against gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, we can only speculate now. Who does this benefit? Certainly not Europe. And neither does the US. Because through Putin’s attack on Ukraine, the Americans achieved their goal: Russian aggression turned the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from a bone of contention in transatlantic relations into a pile of scrap metal at the bottom of the sea.

Meanwhile, Europe is doing everything to reduce imports of raw materials from Russia, as far as possible to stop them completely. After initial difficulties, he will succeed in this. Of course, from an economic point of view, it will have a significant price to pay. Well-being will decrease, but it will be bearable.

Russia produces nothing that can be sold

But for Russia, things look even worse. Russia lives from the sale of raw materials – given the pipeline network, it mainly supplies Europe. How can the Russians live, if the West no longer wants oil, gas, gold, nickel and other raw materials, even if they are cheaper than on the world market? Russia does not produce anything that can be sold abroad. Putin’s government has proven for 20 years that it cannot modernize the national economy.

Already for this winter, Russia’s economic prospects are gloomy: Europe will buy liquefied gas from the USA, Norway, Qatar and other countries. Oil exists in abundance in North Africa and in many Arab states. Russia’s reorientation towards Asian markets, announced by Moscow, will last decades. You don’t have to be a prophet to say from now on that this objective of the Russian leadership will also prove to be illusory.

Escape through blackmail

What is left for Russia to do? To try one more time to blackmail the West. Russia probably attacked its own gas pipelines, belonging to Gazprom. But the message addressed to Europe is the following: see that next time it could be from Norway to Poland or from Africa to Italy, that Moscow’s submarines can hit everywhere!

In the end, the West will not let itself be blackmailed. NATO is not defenseless. The need to defend critical infrastructure is another reason why the defense budget must be increased substantially in the western states. So that the warships and submarines of the Alliance show an increased presence in the Baltic Sea, the North Atlantic and the Black Sea.

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