Putin’s pipeline of aggression: How the Nord Stream 2 threatens the West

This article is by Stanisław Żaryn for US Journal – Defense News 31.03.21 and is a spokesman for Poland’s minister-special services coordinator.

It is increasingly difficult for Berlin to defend its claims that Nord Stream 2 is a purely economic project. Instead of backing out of this horrendous deal for Europe, Germany appears to be amplifying a new narrative in its favor — to complete the construction of the pipeline while conditioning its use on European Union decisions and Russian behavior.

If built, Nord Stream 2 will pose an intelligence threat to the West. There exists the risk that the infrastructure used to lay the Russian pipeline beneath the Baltic Sea may allow the Kremlin to deploy surveillance devices.

“The new project would permit new technologies to be placed along the pipeline route, and that is a threat,” said the deputy assistant secretary of state for energy diplomacy back in 2018 during her visit to Berlin.

Similar concerns have been voiced by Sweden with regard to Nord Stream. In 2006, the then-Swedish minister of national defense said quite bluntly that the Russians would be able to exploit the Russia-to-Germany gas link for intelligence collection.

Given that the Baltic Sea is highly congested and regularly used by NATO for exercise purposes, and given its strategic importance as the only waterway for liquefied natural gas carriers bound for terminals in countries that purchase LNG overseas as a way to escape the dependence on the Russian energy supplies (such as Poland), among other considerations, the Russian intelligence threat posed by Nord Stream 2 must be taken seriously.

Equally salient is the risk that Russia may one day deploy its naval forces along the pipelines’ routes on a national security pretext, leaving much of the Baltic Sea unnavigable, including for LNG carriers, cargo ships, the navies of the countries surrounding this body of water and NATO maritime forces. In such a scenario, the potential for escalation is clear.

Poland, the largest country on NATO’s eastern flank and one that hosts approximately 4,500 rotational U.S. military personnel, is fully aware of the security concerns related to Nord Stream 2. Therefore, Warsaw is also seeking ways to stop the construction of the dangerous Russia-to-Germany gas link.

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