The global energy crisis has been exacerbated by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. This makes it difficult for many Asian nations to meet their energy needs and creates a scarcity of fossil fuels. Looking back, industrialised nations which intend to replace their conventional energy consumption methods with more environmentally friendly ones are once again in the spotlight. The Russo-Ukrainian War caused the wealthy countries’ energy needs to peak, while the rest of the poorer countries’ imports fell as a result of the cargoes being returned to the developed countries in an attempt to alleviate their energy shortages. Similarly, another unsolved mystery surrounding the rise in energy use, particularly in Germany, was the attack on the Nord Stream Gas pipelines. This act has undoubtedly changed the geopolitical and geoeconomic environment has undoubtedly changed as a result of this attack, particularly with regard to Germany’s energy dependence on Russia.
The Nord Stream pipeline is about 1224-kilometer-long sub-sea pipeline—the longest in the world— that connects Germany and Russia.
The Nord Stream 1 was first launched in 2011 with the primary goal of supplying natural gas to the European market, particularly Germany, by avoiding the conventional routes through Ukraine and Poland. In the meantime, Russia’s conflict with Ukraine has prevented the implementation of Nord Stream 2, a plan to expand the pipeline that has already been constructed.
This initiative has gained attention recently due to the attack on this pipeline, and some scholars attribute its impact to the CIA’s covert effort that will alter world geopolitics. This secret operation, which forced Russia to react, is directly related to the crisis in Ukraine and destroyed three of the four Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea. Different people, however, have different perspectives on the attack. Some academics believe that this clandestine operation had a direct impact on reducing Germany’s reliance on Russia for energy as well as changing international alliances. On the other hand, this attack has brought up issues related to the proportionality of geopolitical complexity to energy dependence.
Furthermore, no proof of CIA officers being involved has been found in the operation, which was carried out in secret. When the subject is brought up, the White House remains utterly silent, and when it is brought up for discussion, the government flatly denies any role in the attack.
The administration of President Joe Biden is driven only by the desire to keep Germany’s power in the area and keep it from becoming dependent on Russian gas.
Moreover, the attack’s timing, which coincides with Nord Stream 1 and 2 being shut down and blocked by the German government, emphasises the strategic goal of preventing Germany from turning on the supply of Russian gas because of financial constraints. In light of the Ukraine war, there was concern in the White House that economic forces could push Germany closer to Russia and undermine international attempts to economically isolate Russia.
Also, the White House is concerned about a number of issues as a result of this concealed effort, namely the reconfiguration of international alliances, the deterioration of international trust, and the escalation of hostilities. Also, it fears that Germany would hesitate and let Russian gas to flow again, which could potentially erode NATO cohesion and make it more difficult to formulate a coordinated response to security threats in Europe and beyond.
So, the choice to destroy the pipelines is indicative of an American policy strategy that places a high value on severing possible commercial links between Russia and Europe. It draws attention to the intricate geopolitical processes and rivalries for power within the region. In the dynamic field of international relations, nations must protect their strategic interests because alliances and enmities are subject to change in response to shifting interests.
Ultimately, the clandestine operation of the Nord Stream pipelines serves as a sobering reminder that in the realm of international politics, there are only everlasting interests—not permanent friends or adversaries. The interdependence of major world powers and their quest for tactical benefits influence the direction of international relations. Recognising the complex power dynamics and fragile relationships that characterise the contemporary geopolitical scene is essential as the world watches the fallout from this secret mission.
Sikandar Azam Khan is a Research Officer at Balochistan Think Tank Network (BTTN), BUITEMS Quetta. He completed his MPhil in Peace and Conflict Studies from National Defence University and did his Masters in International Relations from Quaid-I-Azam University, Islamabad. he tweets @Sikandarzam