‘Only Russia’ could be behind Nord Stream leaks, says ex-German intelligence chief – POLITICO

Only a state actor could have carried out attacks on Nord Stream pipelines and the most likely culprit is Russia, said the former head of Germany’s federal intelligence agency.

“Unnoticed and conspiratorial damage to pipelines at a depth of 80 meters in the Baltic Sea requires sophisticated technical and organizational capabilities that clearly indicate a state actor,” Gerhard Schindler told German newspaper WELT.

“Only Russia can really be considered for this, especially since it has the most to gain from this act of sabotage. Shutting off the gas supply can now be justified simply by pointing the finger at faulty pipelines , without having to advance alleged turbine problems or other flimsy arguments to break supply contracts,” he added.

Attacks of this kind would undoubtedly also disturb Western states and their populations, which would fit into the Russian calculation. “And last but not least, the price of gas is going up, which is of course in Russia’s interest,” Schindler said.

According to media reports, the US Central Intelligence Agency has warned Germany against the scenario of an attack on the Nord Stream pipeline. Schindler could not say if and how precisely the CIA gave its warning.

August Hanning, who headed the BND (Federal Intelligence Service) from 1998 to 2005, agreed with Schindler that the attack must have been ordered by a state.

“This operation was obviously carried out in such a professional and complex manner that only well-trained special forces could be considered for its execution,” he said.

He said it was unlikely that submarines could have approached the pipeline as it would have attracted attention. A drone attack would be more likely. But the most plausible scenario, he said, is that combat swimmers planted the explosive devices.

“Which state is behind the attack must now be carefully clarified. Somewhere, such an attack leaves traces,” Hanning said.

Another former BND leader, Gerhard Conrad, declined to elaborate on who or what might have been behind the attack.

“First of all, thorough forensic investigations must be carried out. This is not yet possible at the moment. Then we will already know more,” he told WELT.

He added that the attack could have been carried out with a torpedo.

Regarding the alleged CIA warning, he added: “There are always warnings. The question is how concrete they are. There have also been repeated warnings that undersea cables, for example, could be deliberately damaged.

James R. Rhodes