After Nord Stream leaks: Scholz and Store: NATO should protect pipelines

The leaks in the two Nord Stream pipelines have exposed the vulnerability of critical infrastructure.

After Nord Stream leaks: Scholz and Store: NATO should protect pipelines

The leaks in the two Nord Stream pipelines have exposed the vulnerability of critical infrastructure. On the fringes of the Berlin Security Conference, Scholz and his Norwegian counterpart are now determined to change that - with the help of NATO.

According to the will of Germany and Norway, NATO should protect gas pipelines and internet lines on the seabed from attacks. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will be asked to set up a coordination office for this, said Chancellor Olaf Scholz at a meeting with Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Store.

Stoltenberg welcomed the initiative. It is a reaction to the blasting of the two Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea. At the end of September, a total of four underwater leaks were found on the two Nord Stream pipelines, from which enormous amounts of gas escaped for days. The leaks are located near the Baltic Sea island of Bornholm, partly in Danish and partly in Swedish waters. The EU and NATO assume sabotage. The Kremlin had dismissed speculation about Russian participation as "stupid and absurd".

Scholz and Store met before a joint appearance at the Berlin Security Conference. "Pipelines, telephone cables and internet connections are lifelines for our states and must be particularly secured. Last but not least, the attacks on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines have shown the great risks here," said the Chancellor. The aim now must be to coordinate police and military forces efficiently and to involve actors such as the European Union and private companies.

"It's about safety for power plants. I don't want to draw a sharp line here between what's above and what's below water. It's about gas pipelines, it's about the telecommunications infrastructure, fiber optic infrastructure and other things," Store said. "We need a coordinated joint effort to ensure security for this infrastructure," he said.

Stoltenberg said he was looking forward to discussing the plans with Scholz and Store in Berlin. "We have stepped up our efforts following the recent sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines. And it is now critical to do more to ensure our offshore infrastructure is secure against further acts of destruction."

Prime Minister Store also announced that he would return part of the lavish gas revenues to Ukraine and other states suffering from the war. As one of the world's largest gas exporters, Norway is benefiting massively from rising energy prices. Scholz thanked Norway for increasing its deliveries to Germany by 10 percent to compensate for the lack of imports from Russia.

The Chancellor assured that Germany had learned lessons from the Russian aggression against Ukraine "to protect our own country and our allies". He told the leadership of the Bundeswehr that the core mission was national and alliance defense and the defense of freedom in Europe. "All other tasks of our armed forces are derived from this. All other tasks are subordinate to this central task," said Scholz. "No aggressor must ever doubt that we are determined to defend every Allied and every inch of Alliance territory with all the forces at our disposal."

To ensure that, Germany is investing the special fund of 100 billion euros in the Bundeswehr, assured Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht. The neglect of the armed forces must end. "We can't go on like this. That's why it's important that there was a very clear announcement," said Lambrecht. "We will ensure that the Bundeswehr will be able to ensure the defense of the country and the alliance in the future and that it can also be equipped accordingly with the special fund of 100 billion euros."

Lambrecht also reiterated solidarity with Ukraine and NATO allies on the eastern flank. "For us Germans it is important that our allies know that they can rely on us. We are loyal partners and, above all, very committed partners."

Numerous high-ranking representatives from politics and the armed forces of allied and friendly states will speak at the conference until Thursday. The organizers describe the meeting as the first major conference of this kind since Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine began in February.

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