Ukraine Update: Russia’s costly Nord Stream repairs complicate sabotage theories; 9 million Ukrainians without power

by Jacob Fuller

Lauren C. Moye, FISM News

 

Russia has begun repairs to Nord Stream 1 and 2, the natural gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea that many believe were sabotaged after Swedish and Danish authorities discovered evidence of detonations during an investigation in early October.

Moscow has previously blamed the U.S. and Britain for the Nord Stream pipeline leaks. Meanwhile, countries like Ukraine and Poland blamed Russia for intentionally sabotaging its own pipeline, a theory that is becoming even more difficult to support as Russia begins the costly repairs.

The investigating team concluded that an unknown state actor was most likely responsible for the detonations, Times first reported, but claims not to know which country set the bombs.

“In the big context of the war in Ukraine that is ongoing, it’s very interesting and very serious,” Sweden’s top counterintelligence official Daniel Stenling said to Times in a recent interview.

“We have no concrete evidence. But hopefully, we will,” Stenling added, refusing to name a likely perpetrator.

The repair cost is estimated to be at about $500 million, an anonymous Nord Stream AG employee told The New York Times in a piece published yesterday. The repairs further complicate speculation of who was behind the sabotage.

Earlier on, multiple countries accused Moscow of sabotaging their own pipes in an effort to further destabilize European countries with an energy shortage. However, Russia’s engagement in the costly repairs would be counterproductive if the Kremlin originally ordered the destruction of the lines.

Meanwhile, the pipes themselves have a history of contention involving Ukraine and numerous other European countries.

Nord Stream 1 was first activated in 2011 to provide cheaper gas to Germany. The pipe meant that Russia could bypass piping gas through Ukraine. The second pipe was completed in 2021.

European countries opposed both pipes out of fears it would increase energy reliance on Russia. Former U.S. presidents Barrack Obama and Donald Trump also condemned the construction of Nord Stream 2.

Ukraine previously warned that Russia would have limited reasons to preserve Ukrainian infrastructure if gas suppliers were allowed to bypass the country through the Baltic Sea. The pipelines would compromise Ukraine’s national security and make them vulnerable to Russian bombing.

Ukrainian energy regulators sent a letter to Poland explaining this concern in 2021 in an effort to prevent Nord Stream 2 from coming online. This letter was also obtained by Times.

9 MILLION WITHOUT POWER IN UKRAINE

During his Monday nightly address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that nearly 9 million Ukrainians were still without electricity throughout the country.

Ukraine had a pre-war population of 41 million people.

While Zelenskyy stated that power workers had returned power to many on Christmas, there were still continuing problems caused by Russian attacks on the power grid. Because of this, the president said that “shortages persist.”

“The situation as of this evening in different regions of Ukraine is that nearly nine million people are without electricity. But the numbers and the length of the blackouts are gradually decreasing,” Zelenskyy said.

Russia has previously said that the frequent attacks on Ukraine’s energy grid are necessary for their military goal of “demilitarizing” the nation. However, it’s left civilians suffering from winter conditions. There was a low of 40 degrees Fahrenheit on the forecast for the capital city of Kyiv on Monday.

The energy outages also have a snowball effect on the water treatment process, which has lessened access to clean drinking water in some parts of Ukraine.

Russia continues to engage in shelling of front-line cities in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Specifically, Russian attacks continue on the cities of Bakhmut, Kherson, Kreminna, and Avdiivka.

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