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    Putin’s War is threatening our planet – attack on gas pipelines pulls Russia into the line of suspicion – but what about the US?!

    November 2022

    There was no good time for Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked, idiotic invasion of Ukraine. But this is a uniquely bad time. Because it’s diverting worldwide attention and resources needed to mitigate climate change – during what in my opinion may be the last decade when we still have a chance to manage the climate extremes that are now unavoidable and avoid those that could become unmanageable. Unfortunately, what happens between Ukraine and Russia does not stay between Ukraine and Russia. That’s because the world today is flatten than ever. We have connected so many people, places, and markets to so many other people, places and markets – and then removed so many of the old buffers that insulated us from one another’s excesses and replaced them with grease – that instability in one node can now go really far, really wide, really fast.

    Days after a pair of explosions under the Baltic Sea in the month of September apparently ruptured giant natural gas pipelines from Russia to Germany, the consensus has further hardened that it was an act of sabotage. The European Union and several European governments labeled the incident on attack and demanded an investigation.

    Expert said it could take months to asses and repair the damage to the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which have been used as leverage in the West’s confrontation with Moscow over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. News of a possible attack on the lines further heightened already intense fears of painful energy shortages in Europe over the winter. But the central mystery in my opinion remains: Who did it? Who is responsible for this climate catastrophe?

    All available information indicates those leaks are the result of a deliberate act. But with little evidence to go on – American officials said that explosive gas pouring from the broken pipes made it too dangerous to get close to the breach. Poland and Ukraine openly blamed Russia, which pointed a finger at the US, and both Moscow and Washington issued indignant denials. US officials and outside experts also speculated over that Ukraine or one of the Baltic States, which have long opposed the pipelines, might have had an interest in seeing them disabled -and in sending a message.

    As the war began, Germany blocked the just – completed Nord Stream 2 from going into service, and Russia later shut off the flow through Nord Stream 1, setting off a frantic effort in Europe to secure enough fuel to heat homes, generate electricity and power businesses. Some European and American officials cautioned that it would be premature to conclude that Russia was behind the apparent attacks on the Nord Streams, each of which is actually two pipelines. President Vladimir V. Putin in my opinion likes to show he has his finger on the gas valve, but wielding that power could mean keeping the pipelines, whose main owner is Russia’s state – controlled energy company, Gazprom, in good working order. But others noted that one of two Nord Stream 2 pipelines was undamaged, leaving Mr. Putin the possibility of using it as leverage in the coming winter turns particularly cold.

    Many Western officials and analysts said sabotage would fit neatly into Mr. Putin’s broader Russian strategy of waging war on multiple fronts, using economic and political tools, as well as arms, to undermine Ukraine’s allies and weaken their resolve and unity. In my opinion it clearly demonstrates to an already jittery Europe how vulnerable its vital infrastructure is, including other pipelines and under – sea power and telecommunications cable.

    Nevertheless, at first glance, it seems counter intuitive that the Kremlin would damage its own multibillion – dollar assets. But as the stakes are so high at this current stage in the war, there is in my opinion value for Moscow in fueling European fear, which pushes up prices in the gas market. And it is not clear what Mr. Putin stands to lose, having already cut off gas deliveries to European countries in recent months. With both Nord Streams already idle, the damage in the Baltic Sea has no immediate effect on European energy supplies – but it has by no doubt an immediate effect on our planet. The bad news is, during war times, this seems to be a last concern.