The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has released an official statement calling the attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines sabotage and vowing to defend its allied nations against such attacks. In a statement released on September 29, NATO said the damage to the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in the Baltic Sea was “of deep concern. All currently available information indicates that this is the result of deliberate, reckless, and irresponsible acts of sabotage,” the statement said. “These leaks are causing risks to shipping and substantial environmental damage. We support the investigations underway to determine the origin of the damage.”
NATO was created in 1949 to deter the Soviet Union. Its raison d'être has changed over the years, but the member nations have always vowed to protect each other if one was ever attacked. This is Article 5 of its charter. It was first invoked after the 9/11 attacks on the United States.In its statement, NATO asserted its right to defend itself. “We, as Allies, have committed to prepare for, deter and defend against the coercive use of energy and other hybrid tactics by state and non-state actors,” it said. “Any deliberate attack against Allies’ critical infrastructure would be met with a united and determined response.”The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines ran gas from Russia into Europe. Germany shut down Nord Stream 1 after Russia invaded Ukraine. Nord Stream 2 was never activated and Russia said it was shutting down the pipe indefinitely. On September 27, authorities noticed a steep drop in pressure in the pipes as natural gas began to leak into the Baltic Sea.Scientists at the Swedish National Seismic Network detected what it called two “clear explosions” near the pipes on Monday. One registered a 2.3 magnitude at various monitoring stations. No one knows who is responsible for what many are calling an attack on the pipeline, and conspiracy theories are flourishing.Gas has been a pressure point between Russia and Europe. In the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, Russia responded to heavy European sanctions by cutting off the flow of natural gas to countries like Germany. It’s affecting the economy of Europe, causing energy prices and some factories to shut down. Germany is even looking into restarting old nuclear power plants as the winter months approach. Sign up for Motherboard’s daily newsletter for a regular dose of our original reporting, plus behind-the-scenes content about our biggest stories.