On September 26, Putin’s war escalated after explosions disabled gas pipelines beneath the Baltic Sea linking Russia to Germany and began spewing methane and gas, equivalent to a small country’s annual emissions. The pipeline, and its newer twin, had been virtually stopped from shipping energy to punish Europe, but now they are out of commission. “This is an act of sabotage — an act which likely means a further step of escalation of the situation in Ukraine,” declared Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. NATO called it sabotage, US officials dubbed it as “apparent sabotage”, and Russia blamed America.

An investigation will take months, but the damage suspiciously occurred at a location just outside NATO territory near Denmark. (If inside the territory, the attack would have constituted an act of war against NATO itself.) And missing from news stories is the fact that the same day of the “simultaneous accidents”, Russia’s Gazprom announced it will shut down its still-operating Ukrainian gas pipeline that serves Eastern, Central Europe, and indirectly Ukraine. That leaves only two lines, beneath the Black Sea that link Russia to Turkey, and southeastern Europe, the Balkans, and Turkey.

This week winter arrived in Europe.

The gas pipelines from Russia: Nord Stream 1 and 2, EuRoPol to Poland (closed already), Ukraine’s Soyuz (to be closed soon), Turk Stream, and Blue Stream.,.

The news jolted markets as well as political capitals. Germany and Denmark immediately tried to prevent panic and stated that the lines were shut down anyway and new sources of supply will get Europeans through the winter. But that won’t be the case if Putin shuts down all remaining pipelines to intimidate Europe. There is already a scramble for alternative supplies and new energy sources, along with massive subsidies to consumers to keep the lights on as well as plans to ration energy.

Now NATO must scramble to provide protection for Europe’s critical infrastructure from pipelines to refineries, telecommunications cables, LNG ports and pipelines, wind farms, solar parks, nuclear reactors, power plants, transmission lines, and water treatment facilities. Nothing will be safe. “The Baltic Sea `leaks’ were `a terrorist attack planned by Russia and an act of aggression towards E.U.,’” tweeted Ukraine.

Surely, the piecemeal shutdown or sabotage of Europe’s energy system is reason enough to declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism and remove it from membership in the United Nations where it has weaponized the Security Council by vetoing any attempt to impede its terrorism and warfare. Evidence mounts in Ukraine of its war crimes, genocide, nuclear blackmail, and food blackmail. And two million Ukrainian citizens, including hundreds of thousands of children, have been “forcibly removed” to Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said last week.

Mariupol residents deported to Russian camps

Frankly, Putin’s Russia should have been isolated and labelled a menace years ago, as were North Korea and Iran. But free to roam, Putin helped the Butcher of Aleppo, the Assad regime in Syria who drove seven million Syrians into refugee camps and Europe; poisoned or assassinated many Russian dissidents and Europeans; sabotaged elections; and shot down Ukraine Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 in 2014 over Ukraine after it left Amsterdam, killing all 298 persons on board. Russian cyberattacks have been constant, aimed at closing major infrastructure in countries around the world, its support for Islamist terrorist groups are known, and its Wagner Group mercenaries operate in dozens of countries waging war and perpetrating terrorist attacks. Even Mohammed Attah, of 9/11 infamy, worked for Russian intelligence, among others, according to a recent, fascinating article in thehill.com by Ukrainian-American activist and lawyer Victor Rud.

How can a nation-state, with a rap sheet that long, be granted any standing geopolitically? The U.S. Congress agrees and recently passed a resolution to designate the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism — as is the case for Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Cuba. However, the hold out has been the Biden White House, notably its current Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who resists because, he says, this would require America to sanction U.S. allies doing business with Moscow, and because it would prevent a diplomatic solution. But why should anyone be doing business with this regime? Was diplomacy a thing when Hitler was murdering millions? And does anybody in the world really think that Putin can be negotiated with?

A Ukrainian murdered by Russians trying to flee from Irpin near Kyiv

After Sweden reported the explosions, the European Union limply announced more sanctions. This signals, once again, a lapse in perception and vigilance against the reality that Putin weaponizes everything and there’s more to come. For instance, the current flood of young Russian men fleeing his partial mobilization may have been weaponized. An estimated 200,000 have left, but how many posing as draft dodgers will become “Trojan Horse” saboteurs, setting up cells inside Europe? This is a possibility which has yet to be raised publicly, but should be, given the Kremlin’s evil expertise.

Only tiny Estonia is wise to this danger, hardly surprising given the battering it’s received at the hands of Moscow. Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has asked Russian or Belarusian national residents, living in Estonia, to surrender any firearms they own, and will face search and seizure by police because they are potential security risks. Estonia was the first Euro nation to slam shut its border to Russians and has told its 20,000 residents with Russian citizenship that they will be deported and cannot ever return if they join the Russian military. All European nations should do the same.

Fortunately, China understands that Putin must go, hardly surprising since its leader publicly posed for photographers as Putin’s “no limits” partner, on the eve of a genocidal war. Even before Putin’s underwater trick this week, China’s state media began to turn against Putin’s war this week. On September 15, Putin only admitted publicly that President Xi Jinping had “concerns” about his war, but privately Xi raised objections to Putin’s loose talk about nukes, and his mobilization of 300,000 reservist troops who, it now turns out, are mostly press ganged from Asian or Turkic minorities inside Russia, not white Russians.

The usually anti-Western Asia Times noted China’s shift in tone: “Political [Chinese] commentators said even if Moscow could recruit substantially more soldiers it would only gain a marginal advantage over the Ukrainians in the battlefield in the coming winter season. They claimed Russian troops were suffering from poor food, outdated weapons, and low morale – echoing much of the Western media reporting that is slanted in favor of the Ukrainians over the Russians.”

“Zhou Ming, a military columnist at Phoenix TV, wrote that it could not be justified for Russia to use nuclear weapons on Ukraine, which had fulfilled its promise to turn over thousands of atomic weapons in 2001, especially when Moscow was among those who agreed [to the Budapest Memorandum, also signed by the US, and the UK, with weaker assurances from France and China] to provide security guarantees to the country,” reported Asia Times.

This is very significant because Chinese censors have never allowed anti-Russia messages to be circulated online. Now they are published which means the tide, in terms of world opinion, is finally turning against Putin the Terrorist.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Diane Francis Newsletter on America and the World,  https://dianefrancis.substack.com/about

The views expressed in this article are the author’s and not necessarily those of the Kyiv Post.

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