This week the world has witnessed some extraordinary developments related to the invasion and occupation of Ukraine. First up, seismic stations operated by Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland on Monday registered two undersea tremors of similar magnitude. At the same time, the pressure dropped in one of the Nord Stream pipelines running 1,200 kilometers from Russia, across the Baltic Sea to Germany. Not long after, Danish authorities ordered ships to steer clear of an area where huge amounts of methane gas was bubbling to the surface. Just hours later, two additional sites with leaks were detected.
As of the time of this report's preparation on Friday, a total of four gas leaks on the two Nord Stream pipelines have been reported. Numerous reports cite European officials as saying Russian vessels were seen in the vicinity of the Nord Stream I and II pipelines where they were damaged.
NATO issued a statement on Thursday saying the leaks were the result of deliberate sabotage and attacks on allies’ critical infrastructure would be met with a “united and determined response.”
Perhaps awkwardly timed, on Wednesday of this week, the leaders of Poland, Denmark, and Norway officially opened the Baltic Pipe gas pipeline. In his comments, Poland's Prime Minister stated;
“The era of Russian domination in the field of gas is coming to an end, the era that was marked by blackmail, threats and extortion.”
The damage to the Nord Stream 1 and 2 will have limited immediate impact as neither was operational as a result of the geopolitical response to the invasion of Ukraine. Going forward, replacing the badly needed energy supply, and transport route, will be difficult.
For their part, Russia is asking one simple question: "Why would we blow up our own pipelines?"
While there are a host of reasons for them to do so, accusations and theories are flying from multiple nations and interests.
In an interesting side note, the New York Times is reporting that back in June, the C.I.A. issued a vague warning to a number of European nations, including Germany, that the two Nord Stream gas pipelines could be targeted in forthcoming strikes.
Here are Victoria Nuland of the State Department, and Joe Biden, directly stating that Nord Stream 2 will not go into operation if Russia invades Ukraine.
As a result of the attacks, stakeholders across the critical infrastructure spectrum are redoubling their security efforts to deter and prevent similar broad reaching hits with national and international implications.
Last week AlertsUSA reported on Vladimir Putin's announcement that Russian-installed authorities in four, side-by-side regions of Ukraine had announced plans for public referendums on joining Russia, which were set to be held last weekend.
This week, events rolled out quickly. First, the referendum results were published. As expected, each region voted overwhelmingly to join Russia. This was followed on Friday by Vladimir Putin signing various “accession treaties” for the annexation of the Kherson, Zaporizhzhya, Luhansk, and Donetsk oblasts.
The signing ceremony was a splashy event held in the massive Georgian Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace. This was followed by a Putin delivering a public speech and a concert attended by thousands in Red Square.
In that speech, Putin once again threatened authorities in Kyiv and “their real masters in the West.” He made sweeping proclamations calling Western elites the “enemy,” and blamed the West for global food and energy crises. He also hinted they were responsible for the sabotage of pipelines.
“Sanctions were not enough for the Anglo-Saxons. They moved on to sabotage.”
Putin also once again made his threat clear: Russia will use all weapons at it's disposal to protect Russian territory.
This raises the question: At what point will Russia grow weary of losing occupied territory to Ukrainian counter offenses and up their battlefield game?
The international response to the annexation of the Ukrainian territory has been fast. Shortly after Putin’s address, the US announced new sanctions against Russia, including against more Russian military officials and entities supporting Russia and Belarus’s military sectors.
The White House also issued a written statement from Joe Biden:
“Make no mistake: these actions have no legitimacy. The United States will always honor Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders.”
The response of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was much more telling and can be seen here.
This is a dangerous situation with implications both in the region and beyond. It is to be expected that NATO nations would be well into further increasing their readiness, including several reporting the distribution of potassium iodide tablets to local authorities to have closer to the population in the event nuclear weapons enter use. Even the Russian government is placing emergency orders for the pills.
Our domestic source for potassium iodide tablets is KI4U Inc. of Gonzales, TX.
AlertsUSA continues to monitor the domestic and international threat environment around the clock and will immediately notify service subscribers, via SMS messages to their mobile devices, of new alerts, warnings and advisories or any developments which signal a change the overall threat picture for American citizens as events warrant.