It’s in the Pipeline

Back in 2006 I posted several times about the new Russian natural gas pipeline that was planned to run under the Baltic Sea from the Russian coast of the Gulf of Finland to northern Germany. Among the purposes of the proposed pipeline was that it would bypass Gazprom’s Central European customers and connect directly with those in Western Europe. Once the new pipeline was in place, the Kremlin could express displeasure with Central European countries that resisted its regional hegemony by cutting off their gas supply, without hurting Germany, which is generally compliant when it comes to Russian interests.

At the time the Central European states that were irritating Russia the most were Poland and Hungary. I would guess that these days Ukraine is more in the forefront of Russia’s concerns in the region.

The pipeline, now known as Nord Stream 2, is nearing completion. When it is fully operational, Russia will be able to cut off the gas supply to Kiev whenever it likes. In the dead of winter, for example — a powerful non-military means of coercion.

Central European member states of NATO have asked the United States to sanction the company in charge of the pipeline. The Biden administration has said that the building of the pipeline constitutes “sanctionable conduct”, so it seemed extremely likely the sanctions would become official.

Until yesterday afternoon, that is, when sources reported that the State Department had decided to waive the sanctions on Nord Stream 2.

The decision seems mysterious — Russia is the great bogeyman, and the EU wanted the sanctions. Why would the US decide to waive them?

It took a while for the information to sink in, but a few hours later a light bulb came on over my head, and I understood what is really going on.

First, here’s the news of the decision, as reported by The Hill:

Biden Waiving Sanctions for Nord Stream 2 Pipeline Firm: Report

The U.S. State Department is set to waive sanctions that would affect the construction of a Russian company’s pipeline into Germany, Axios reported Tuesday, citing two sources briefed on the matter.

In its mandatory 90-day report to Congress, the Biden administration will concede that both the corporate entity behind the pipeline, Nord Stream 2 AG, and CEO Matthias Warnig, are engaging in sanctionable conduct. However, the department will suspend application of those sanctions, but apply sanctions to Russian ships involved in the construction.

Fully halting the 95 percent complete project would likely require sanctioning German entities as well, the sources told Axios, and the White House has decided against applying such pressure to the U.S.-German relationship.

The completion of the pipeline would allow fuel from Russia to bypass Ukraine to reach Europe, undermining the nation’s connection to western Europe. Secretary of State Antony Blinken Antony Blinken previously said in his confirmation hearing earlier this year that “I am determined to do whatever we can to prevent [the pipeline’s] completion.”

Sources told Axios the administration would reserve the right to cancel any sanctions waivers, and that knowledge of that would give the U.S. leverage over Russia.

Radosław Sikorski, the interparliamentary delegation chair for the European Union, called for the U.S. to impose sanctions on the entire pipeline in April. After a meeting with a group of lawmakers including House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Gregory Meeks Gregory Weldon Meeks (D-Calif.), Sikorski told The Hill he “made the point that if the U.S. imposes sanctions they should be effective.”

A spokesperson for the State Department told The Hill that the administration “has been clear that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is a Russian geopolitical project that threatens European energy security and that of Ukraine and eastern flank NATO allies and partners.”

Needless to say, congressional Republicans are hoppin’ mad about the Biden regime’s decision to go easy on the Russians and encourage them in their bullying behavior.

But there’s a larger story here, one that everybody seems to be overlooking.

Cast your mind back ten days or so ago to news about another pipeline, the Colonial Pipeline Company’s gas pipeline on the East Coast of the United States. Colonial was hit with a ransomware cyberattack on its control systems, and was forced to shut down operations almost a week. The supply of gasoline to the East Coast dried up. As panic buying kicked in among the general public, most gas stations ran out of gasoline, and long gas lines formed up at the few remaining businesses that were still pumping gas.

For citizens of a certain age, gas lines bring up memories of Jimmy Carter and the “malaise” of 1979. Which is not something that the Democrats would see as politically advantageous.

Colonial hastily paid a $5 million ransom to get their systems back. By the beginning of this week the gas had started pumping again, although the price seems to be stuck twenty cents higher than it was a couple of weeks ago.

The hackers who brought down Colonial were said to be based in Eastern Europe. At the time I took that to mean Ukraine or Belarus, and I thought, “Hmm… The Russians must have known about this. It’s on their home turf, so even if they didn’t contract for it, they must surely have been aware of it in advance.” But I didn’t see what advantage Russia would gain from it, except for a brief, temporary spike in the price of oil.

Yesterday afternoon, however, everything became abundantly clear. I can imagine a brief, cordial note from the Russian ambassador delivered to the State Department in Washington D.C.:

I would like to extend my sympathy to the United States for the mishap the Colonial Pipeline Company suffered in the operation of its pipeline. Energy security is crucial for everyone, especially where pipelines are concerned. It is my fervent wish that no other American pipeline might suffer a similar misfortune.

And speaking of pipelines: Despite these unfortunate circumstances, I would like to remind the Biden administration that sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline are in no one’s interest, neither Russia’s, nor Europe’s, nor the United States’. President Putin has communicated to me his earnest hope that President Biden will waive those sanctions. Such a gracious move would go a long way towards re-establishing amicable relations between our two countries.

Well, son of a bitch, the sanctions got waived!

I’m sure the Russians are grateful for Mr. Biden’s kindness.

21 thoughts on “It’s in the Pipeline

  1. jah, you stop our pipeline ve stop yours. now vhat.
    So where were the federal authorities who job it is to keep our data systems safe?
    (the other question)

    • spasibo

      1 of 6
      spasibo … insight from Gates of Vienna

      Zhou Bai-Den not only rolls over for MaoMart ….

      the EU will feign fealty to the ‘Kwa for a while longer, but then it’s buhbye

      seriously, what ‘essential’ entity does the ‘Kwa provide ? …. our last trade good was mil muscle

      and that is now in the process of demolition

    • My experience as a cryptographer leads me to believe that many institutions are highly vulnerable, hacks usually take the form of compromised passwords, using PA55WORD is very common.

      One bribes an insider, $500,000 is very tempting.

      Institutions hate spending money on security, it is totally unprofitable, there is no RoI, and a lot of extra bureaucracy, all for the lottery of the possibility of getting hacked.

      If you do not compartmentalize both the systems and the people then you are vulnerable, for once into the system you need to work out how to compromise it and hold it to ransom, this is where the insider comes in, we can use challenge/response and 2 officer, 2 factor authentications on vulnerable transactions, these sorts of things are complex.

      I have seen all sorts of stupidities when security is left to house programers, like adding hex 4F to each letter and imagining it is secure.

      It took 5 minutes to crack! You get what you pay for…..

    • Nah, not buying that theory.
      I am not even buying that it was hackers.
      It is awfully convenient to have a crucial piece of infrastructure to suffer an outtage when the democrats are trying to push a three trillion dollar infrastructure bill through congress.
      Also awfully convenient for a I40 bridge across the Mississippi river to have a structural damage resulting in its closure.

  2. The Duran goes into the history, where Germany almost begged Russia to build the pipeline. Russia only cut off gas to Ukraine after Ukraine failed to pay and siphoned off gas interned for Germany. They have not cut off anyone else.

    https://rumble.com/vhaz49-nord-stream-2-continues-as-putin-smear-campaign-begins.html
    Rumble — Nord Stream 2 continues as PUTIN smear campaign begins
    The Duran: Episode 975

    “Tough On Russia” Biden Blinks – Waives Sanctions On Company Overseeing Nord Stream 2 Pipeline

  3. The “cordial note” would be delivered even if Russia had nothing to do with the cyberattack. Even if, say, it were by private entities set on a heist. But Putin would see the immediate advantage in behind closed doors negotiations. Good catch, Baron!

    • There is absolutely no way that Russia was not aware of the cyberattack before it occurred. The FSB is very efficient in its penetration of all the criminal and terrorist networks of the “Near Abroad”. Whether the Kremlin contracted for the attack or not, it certainly knew it was going to happen.

  4. What if it’s not the Russians but the Greens who started it by the Green in Chief – Biden “Kiddo – I guarantee we will end fossil fuels”

    It’s only natural for the oil and gas business to fight back and try to reestablish trading relations.

  5. Gotta hand it to those bloody pesky Ruskies, they certainly know how to play these weak feckless commiecrats to the hilt.

  6. My money is on that hack being done by either the FedPig swill in the US, or the Greens. Never forget: Oil BAD!!!

  7. Thanks for connecting the dots, Boss. It seems like child’s play once you stand back and look at it. Since the Russkies are definitely capable of such chicanery, and this is a rather wide net, I wonder how long it will be before someone spills their guts acknowledging what you’ve shown. The Chinese are watching all this with ill-disguised glee. Since we are extremely vulnerable in more ways than I can count, I wonder how long it will be, before state and non-state actors decide to hell with caution, and bring the US down. Once they figure the odds that they’ll suffer only acceptable losses, we’ll see the torpedo lines in the water.

    • No need to waste a torpedo. Just sit back and watch the Democrats scuttle the ship of state while the Republicans wring their hands over the seating arrangements in first-class dining.

  8. https://dailycaller.com/2021/05/14/colonial-pipeline-hacker-group-shut-down/

    This happened either late 5/12 or early 5/13. The U.S. asserts they had nothing to do with it. Perhaps Russia demonstrating they can be usefully “cooperative” concerning cyber-security.

    “Nice dry-cleaning business you got there, too bad about the recent close call. Maybe we can ask our fire safety consultant to look into it. No thanks necessary, but we do have this one little problem that maybe you can help us with.”

    Two business days later the problem disappears.

  9. Regarding the ransom-ware hijacking of the Colonial Pipeline Company’s pipeline and its associated control hardware, it is well to remember that there are any number of entities plausibly suspect in this caper.

    We know that the deep-state hates all things Russian with a passion that borders on irrational. We also know, from a number of highly-reliable sources, that various American three-letter government agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency have developed and are using sophisticated software which “frames” others for cyber-attacks which they are guilty of initiating.

    The software lays a trail of digital bread-crumbs leading back to the intended target of the false-flag attack. And unless one is pretty sophisticated and advanced in data security and forensic computer science, the evidence is tough to uncover. The vast majority of the masses, being ignorant of these fields of knowledge, goes for the con.

    We also know, because they have told us so frequently and in unambiguous terms, that the Democrats/political left and their paymasters in the shadows (the Sunni Arabs, communist Chinese, etc.) do not want an America self-sufficient in fossil fuels production. The Saudi intelligence service went to far as to classify the prospect a matter of urgent national (Saudi Arabian) concern a few years back. And even if it isn’t various foreign actors behind the attack, then the domestic left is perfectly capable of it, especially if they had skilled help from the Biden regime.

    Anyone who doubts the foregoing or considers it conspiracy-mongering is urged to recall the alacrity with which Biden – an old man who seldom moves quickly for anything these days – shut down the Keystone Pipeline, as one of his first acts in the Oval Office. If Biden is a puppet, then whoever is giving the orders wanted it shut down pronto.

    Is it possible that Putin and the Russians are behind the attack? Yes, but they are far-from-being the only suspects, and they are not even be the best ones. Jumping to that conclusion serves a lot of people’s agenda, which is one reason why the skeptical should examine as much information as possible before making a judgment.

    • I didn’t consider the Russians to be likely culprits until the news broke of the waiver of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline sanctions. That sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s an anomaly that requires an explanation. It was an action that would have scored anti-Russian points for Biden, pleased the Central Europeans, and risked no military hardware or soldiers’ lives.

      Until then, I had considered the idea of the CIA, along the lines of what you said. But then there would have been the resulting gas lines — those were quite predictable, and surely a political liability.

      The sanctions waiver needs a plausible explanation. If you have any other suggestions, I’m open to them.

  10. 5 million dollars seems like a very small ransom. That was the tell that something more was afoot. It wasn’t really about the money, but just to show how vulnerable we are.

  11. Poland will start building the Baltic pipe which is expected to be finished by 2022. It will connect Poland to Norwegian gas. Without Trump in the White House everyone in Eastern Europe was exposed. Poland is rolling out gas pipelines around the country in anticipation as they can retire carbon heating ( wood, charcoal). Real estate ads often mention whether gas is available or expected to be available. However, as Poland will be dependant for heating on one pipe which can be cut, wood type heater in the house and that’s what I am planning or look at diesel generator if they are permitted.

  12. I’ve only heard the name Nordstream2, and have absolutely no information on it. So my first question is: if a company in a sovereign country chooses to build a pipeline to another sovereign country and has the approval of that sovereign country and all those through which the pipeline will be laid, and if the purpose of that pipeline is to distribute for sale a perfectly legal product, by what authority would a third country, with no connection to the pipeline, act to hinder the construction of said pipeline via financial sanctions?

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