A CRACK squad of divers from a shadowy Russian special forces unit could be behind the attack on the Nord Stream gas pipeline, security experts have claimed.
Spetsnaz combat swimmers – a secret branch of the Russian military – and underwater drones could have been used to blow up the strategically important supply route.
Huge bubbles erupted on the sea surface near the Danish island of Bornholm – a NATO member – after explosions along the pipeline were reported on Monday.
Sweden confirmed that it had detected two underwater explosions near the leak sites, while German gas engineers reported that there had been an “explosive” pressure drop in the pipeline and the pipes had been “ruptured”.
Western leaders have accused Russia of sabotaging the line to foment an energy crisis in Europe ahead of the winter.
And according to an independent defense analyst, it is “not out of the question” to think that Moscow could be behind the pipeline’s demolition right under NATO’s nose.
Underwater warfare expert HI Sutton said Russia’s shadowy GUGI naval force, reported to report directly to Vladimir Putin, may have used spy ships to launch an attack.
The naval specialist said: “GUGI and the internet-tapping submarines. Today, the Russian Navy has the largest fleet of spy submarines in the world. These are stationed in the Arctic.
“They would be able to damage a pipe in the Baltic Sea. However, it seems unlikely.”
Missioned to deal a cataclysmic blow to the West, GUGI – the secretive Main Directorate for Deep Sea Research – is known for commanding the Navy’s finest ships.
HI Sutton also said the underwater umbilical was in 230 feet of “diveable” water that could be easily reached by professional divers, who could then plant bombs.
“People will also point out Russian Spetsnaz divers stationed in the Baltic Sea. Not impossible, but a lot of the information out there is out of date,” he explained.
He also said that Russia hosts a lab that is developing state-of-the-art underwater drones that can conduct deep-sea strikes.
He said: “However, Russia has autonomous underwater vehicles.
“A new center for their development is in St. Petersburg. Some of them may be suitable.”
He added that they would need a “host ship” to take them out.
Anders Puck Nielsen, a researcher at the Royal Danish Defense College, echoed these concerns, saying that Putin’s combat swimmers could easily hoist remote-controlled explosives onto the pipeline.
“Technically it’s not difficult. It only requires one boat. It requires some divers who know how to handle explosive devices,” he said.
“But I think if we look at who would actually benefit from disruption, more chaos in the gas market in Europe, I think there’s basically only one player right now that actually benefits from more uncertainty and that’s Russia. “
Another likely cause, according to a British military source, is that Russian special forces may have discreetly laid mines from a camouflaged merchant ship and detonated them days or weeks later, according to The Guardian.
It is still unclear how the heavily fortified pipeline, which is encased in 25 tons of reinforced concrete and weighs 11 tons each, burst.
Ukraine accused Russia of carrying out a “terrorist attack” after three leaks occurred in the two strategic pipes that run under the Baltic Sea.
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said it was an “act of sabotage”, while his Danish and Swedish counterparts viewed the leaks as “deliberate acts”.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said the information she received suggested the blasts were intentional.
“We have Swedish intelligence, but we also got information in our contacts with Denmark and concluded that this is probably a premeditated act. It’s probably sabotage,” she said.
“It is not an attack on Swedish or Danish territory. But the government takes what happened very seriously, not least given the current security situation in our immediate vicinity.”
In the meantime, it has emerged that, according to “Spiegel”, the CIA is said to have warned Germany weeks ago of a possible attack on the Nord Stream pipelines.
Swedish seismologist Björn Lund detected an explosion with the force of 100 kg of TNT – and Norwegian surveillance group Norsar registered an earthquake with a magnitude of around 2.2.
Mr Lund said he spotted two explosions near the pipeline on Monday, one at 2am and another at 7.04pm.
“There is no doubt that they were explosions,” he said.
Nord Stream AG – the operator of the pipeline – said it was impossible to predict when the gas network would be repaired.
Flow over the pipeline, which had been operating at only 20 percent since July, was halted in late August.
Russia’s state-owned oil and gas company Gazprom said it needed urgent maintenance but then didn’t put the line back online.
European leaders said the shutdown was purely political as Putin seeks to ransom the West over his support for Kyiv.
Although the apparent sabotage won’t affect supply immediately, it has pushed up prices by as much as 12 percent, Bloomberg reports.
Ships and planes have been ordered to stay away from the leaks with a five-nautical-mile, 1,000-meter exclusion zone over fears of a catastrophic explosion.
The Danish warship HDMS Absalon – a 6,300-ton frigate armed with missiles and a 5-inch naval gun – was deployed to enforce the exclusion zone.
The 800-mile Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 twin pipelines can transport 110 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia to Western Europe annually.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6317439/putins-special-ops-sabotage-nordstream-pipeline-nato/ How divers from Putin’s sabotage squad might have blown up the Nord Stream gas pipeline right under NATO’s nose