When last we visited the Nord Stream pipeline story we noted that the prospect of doubling the line’s capacity in conjunction with Western O&G companies was effectively allowing Moscow to adopt a hardline approach in talks with Ankara.
Turkish autocrat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is keen on seeing Syria’s Bashar al-Assad pushed aside and, as everyone who doesn’t live in a cave knows, Russia and Iran are keen on preserving the Assad government. This makes for a rather awkward scenario. Ankara and Moscow have established deep trade ties and when Russian jets venture into Turkish airspace whilst attempting to bomb some of the very same militants Turkey has supported, the relationship becomes strained. That goes double when Turkey shoots down Russian drones.
Now obviously, there are very real questions about whether Erdogan can support Ankara’s assertion that Turkey can survive without Russian gas. The idea that either Russia or Turkey would jeopardize the Turkish Stream based on differences of opinion about the President of Syria is to a certain extent absurd (although what happens to that President may shape the future of energy transports from the Mid-East to Europe), but whatever the case, the Nord Stream has become key for the Russians and as we documented in the hilarious "They're Making Idiots Of Us!": Eastern Europe Furious At West For Doing Gas Deals With Russian Devils,” Ukraine and Slovakia aren’t pleased with Moscow’s memorandum of intent with Shell, E.On and OMV.
Here’s a look at the Nord Stream:
Well, in what certainly may be a coincidence but in what also looks remarkably suspicious given the current geopolitcal circumstances, an underwater drone "rigged with explosives" (to quote RT) was spotted near the Nord Stream by Sweden. Here's more:
An unmanned military underwater vehicle rigged with explosives was spotted on the seabed in the vicinity of the Nord Stream gas pipeline in the Baltics on Friday, Swedish media report. The device is expected to be disarmed on November 9.
An abandoned expendable remotely-operated mine clearance underwater vehicle allegedly with explosives onboard has been detected in multinational waters of the Baltic Sea by the Swedish Navy, Svenska Daglabet reports.
The discovery was made during a routine check of the Nord Stream pipeline. Since it was discovered in the Swedish economic zone, north of the island of Gotland, the Nord Stream pipeline operator immediately notified the Swedish military.
The type of ROV (remote operated vehicle) found near Gotland is typically used to disarm big unremovable munitions found on seabed, as the drone is blown up along with the dangerous object.
The national identity of the drone has not been verified so far, as many countries use UUVs of a similar construction, Stolpe said.
So, here's a drone equipped with explosives that shows up near the Nord Stream just as the expansion of the pipeline's capacity threatens Ukraine and Slovakia and gives Russia negotiating leverage with Ankara in the middle of war in a country that shares a border with Turkey.
Maybe it's nothing, but bear in mind this is Russia's go-to pipeline at this juncture and since no one seems to want to come forward and claim they own the drone, one is certaily left to wonder if this could possibly have been an attempt at sabotage.