More fallout from Nord Stream pipeline attacks

By Conor Gallagher

Yesterday, Eve wrote about the Russian response to the Nord Stream attacks. I wanted to touch on some of the other potential consequences I’ve come across, and since there’s no more doubt, I hope to see them in the comments.

The economic disaster in Europe is now certain

There have been questions in Washington about whether the European design will hold up through the winter, as well as unconfirmed reports that Berlin and Moscow are in secret talks to reopen Nord Stream 1 and begin transporting gas via Nord Stream 2.

Now Germany’s fate is doomed – as is most of the continent’s countries. There is no longer a distant slope, and Europeans are now prisoners of NATO, committed to their own destruction.

Slovakia is already asking for billions of euros in support. How long until every other member of the block asks for the same thing?

Prior to the Nord Stream attacks, there was at least a slim chance that reason would prevail and Russian energy imports could resume. Now, the extent of the damage means they are unlikely to transport any gas to Europe this winter even if there is a political will to bring them online.

Just to summarize a little of what that likely means:

  • European banks are already testing how to deal with power shortages and are trying to hook up generators so that ATMs and online banking do not shut down.
  • Cell phones may stop working this winter if power outages or rationing disrupt parts of mobile networks.
  • Science has given up on institutes powering supercomputers, accelerators, and power-hungry laser beam lines.
  • Hundreds of thousands of excess deaths.

However, Europe continues to double in size, proposing a new round of Russian sanctions on Wednesday. They include stricter trade restrictions, more individual blacklists, and a ceiling on oil prices for third countries. But Hungary says it will not comply with any energy sanctions, and the EU needs unanimity to impose sanctions.

Poland and three Baltic states are alarmed that the proposed sanctions do not go further.

Speaking of Poland, it’s up and coming in the world. The Baltic Pipeline, which opened Tuesday, will transport gas from Norway to Poland via Denmark, but its production capacity does not exceed 10 billion cubic meters per year. Nord Stream systems can carry up to 110 cubic meters per year.

The US State Department yesterday announced $288.6 million in military aid to Poland, making it “one of the largest recipients of foreign military aid outside Ukraine.” If John Helmer is right about the Polish navy and special forces being behind the attacks on the pipelines (with US backing), it may be a reward for a job well done.

political repercussions

If the 2008 financial crisis was the beginning of the end of the era of European social democracy, what would happen now under conditions of the Great Depression and people frozen to death?

Center-right parties are already beginning to emerge, while far-right nationalists are on the rise.

Both the Swedish Democrats and the Brothers of Italy were victorious this month. While both remain anti-immigrant and nationalist as they can be within the borders of the European Union, both have also abandoned their previous skeptical positions on NATO in the run-up to the elections. Brussels will be lucky if this is the extent of the violent reaction to its policy towards Russia.

It’s hard to believe that it would be so. If voting is still the preferred method for selecting leaders once this crisis intensifies, what happens if anti-EU parties come to power across the bloc and in centers of power like Berlin?

Protests had already erupted in Germany and elsewhere against pipeline closures before they were attacked. Germany is rushing to deliver a €200 billion package to help protect businesses and families, but it is unlikely to do anything more than ease the pain.

The anti-EU Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is already rising in the polls as it attacks the anti-Russian sanctions policy.

“They say corrupt lawmakers are ignoring people’s needs,” Wolfgang Schroeder, professor of political science at the University of Kassel, told DW. They argue that the elites in Moscow are not victims of these sanctions policies, but that the German people are victims.

According to DW, this message resonates:

According to figures published by research firm INSA, national support for Schulz’s party has fallen from 25.7% in last year’s federal election to 18% on Monday, the FDP has halved to 7%, and even the Greens are now facing a backlash. against their plans to alleviate the gas shortage. The AfD rose, in the same time frame, in national opinion polls from 10% to 15%, one of its all-time highs.

In France, while President Emmanuel Macron managed to win re-election earlier this year, the main objective of the competition was the rise of the anti-EU right, which is now the second largest party in Parliament. Macron already faces a 60 percent rejection rate.

During the challenges that the European Union faces (eg, the 2014-2016 migrant crisis, the COVID response), each country becomes its own. What will happen during what is likely to be the biggest crisis the bloc has ever faced? Reuters:

European Union laws oblige member states to send gas to a neighboring country whose households or essential services such as hospitals face severe shortages. To achieve this, governments arrange bilateral deals. However, only eight countries are covered by the six agreements so far.

The United States is going through a cycle of victory

Energy companies and traders are beating it up exporting LNG to Europe with some record profits, but the US itself is now dealing with much higher prices. Irina Slough writes at Oilprice.com:

Meanwhile, however, LNG prices have soared like an eagle, China is reselling Russian LNG to Europe, and US gas prices are now three times higher than they were a decade ago and up 95 percent in the futures market. For November 2022 to March 2023.

The backlash against LNG exports to Europe has already begun in the United States, where a group of New England states have requested that Washington help their countries rather than Europe.

With Germany’s demise, the US appears to be salvaging some sort of victory from pipeline attacks even if Russia wins on the battlefield in Ukraine but still hopes to turn it into a multi-year conflict.

“I want to be very clear about this, [the] Referring to the four regions of Ukraine that just voted to join the Russian Federation, Biden said Thursday, referring to the four regions of Ukraine:

Washington announced yesterday that it would send another $12 billion to Kyiv and set up one new command center in Germany to coordinate training and assistance to Ukraine — noting that they “expect Russia to continue to threaten Ukraine and its neighbors for many years.”

Since there is no longer a stimulus out of reach for Europe, there is now no reason why Brussels should not “fight to the last of Ukraine”. Washington hawks rejoice:

But Ian Bremer has been accurately described as “the guy who puts his finger off the pulse,” so while the US would benefit in some ways now, the long run may not be great.

Irish economist Philip Pinkington compares what will happen to Europe to the Great Depression and says that even if some European industries moved to the United States, it would be a victory in the short term. It predicts:

Some might assume that this may provide an opportunity for other Western countries. Many believe that America, for example, may be able to “rebuild” European industrialization. It is unlikely that this will be the case. If European industry collapses, Europe again becomes an economic black hole – as it did in the 1930s. Trade will dry up and its main trading partners will feel the burn. In short, if America tries to ship European manufacturing to its shores, it will soon find that no one is buying these products.

However, there is one major difference between the world of the 1920s and 1930s and today. Back in the interwar period, there was no economic bloc competing with the West. Russia was a small player, China was an agricultural economy, and what we now call “developing economies” (Brazil, India, South Africa, etc.) were nothing but development. This is no longer the case.

But his analysis assumes that the Empire of Chaos has no more tricks up its sleeve. Countries and regions that seem stable now may not be that way in the not too distant future. Let us not forget that at the beginning of this year Germany was a safe and prosperous economic power.

The vastness of the battlefield

Yesterday Putin acknowledged how Western forces are trying to foment unrest across Russia in the former Soviet Union:

In pursuit of their goals, our geopolitical opponents, our opponents, as we have said recently, are ready to expose anyone, every person, any country to a blow, turning it to ground zero of crisis, instigating “color revolutions” and unleashing bloody massacres. We’ve seen this many times before. We also know that the West creates scenarios to incite new conflicts in the world [Commonwealth of Independent States].

If it wasn’t already entirely clear, the destruction of the Baltic pipeline makes it clear that the battlefield is no longer confined to Ukraine. Moscow said it recently thwarted an attack on one of its pipelines to Turkey, claiming:

Russia’s internal security service, the FSB, has reported that a Ukrainian agent attempted to sabotage infrastructure in Russia involved in the export of energy to Turkey and Europe.

This means that it is the Turkstream pipeline, which carries gas from Russia to Turkey and then to Bosnia, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, North Macedonia, Romania and Serbia. Turkey, Bulgaria, Hungary and Serbia are all countries that have not swallowed the NATO line on hook, thread and basin of Russia.

Will the US/NATO/Ukraine go after other pipelines like Turkstream if Turkey, Hungary and Serbia continue to play nice with Russia?

And if Nord Stream’s attacks mean pipelines are fair game now, things could turn out to be a lot of fun.

Map of natural gas pipelines in Europe from globalenergymonitor.org

Anders Back Nielsen, a researcher in the Naval Operations Center at the Royal Danish Defense College, told The Associated Press:

We have pipelines and communication cables like the Internet. We only have power lines running on the sea floor. All this is weak and our societies depend heavily on it. It is very difficult to monitor what is happening and prevent a sabotage situation.

As Eve pointed out yesterday, the official Chinese English-speaking apparatus pointed the finger at the United States for the pipeline attacks. Yesterday, military officers in China announced increased cooperation with Russia. From Tass:

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Colonel Tan Kefe said Thursday that China intends to move forward with strengthening its military cooperation with Russia and providing it with new strategic content.

Beijing is advancing cautiously, but it is increasingly moving away from the sidelines. China has access to cheap and reliable natural resources from Russia, and the balkanization of the state would be detrimental to Beijing’s interests. China also prefers international structural stability, and if the United States wants to turn the entire world into a battlefield, what other option does Beijing have?

Diana Johnston sums it up nicely in Consortium News:

You wage gang wars to remove rivals. In gang wars, you issue a mysterious warning, and then you smash windows or burn the place down.

Guerrilla warfare is what you fight when you are actually the boss and you won’t let any outside force into your territory. For Washingtonians, the area can be just about everywhere.

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