It is in the news that the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines is an environmental catastrophe. There are calls for this to be treated as a war crime:

Methane leaking from yet-to-be explained damage on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines is likely to be the biggest burst of the potent greenhouse gas on record, raising new fears of the effect on the climate emergency.

The worst-case scenario is estimated to be 778 million cubic metres of gas leaked, according to the Danish government.

Jackson and David Hastings, a retired chemical oceanographer in Gainesville, Florida, each calculated that would be an equivalent of roughly half a million tonnes of methane. The Aliso Canyon disaster [the largest known terrestrial release of methane in US history] released 90-100,000 tonnes.

“Whoever ordered this should be prosecuted for war crimes and go to jail,” said Rob Jackson, a Stanford University climate scientist.

Given the two unlikely events that we get credible evidence as to who ordered the attack and an opportunity for that person(s) to be tried in the appropriate international court, could these actions lead to charges in the same way that breaching the Geneva Convention would?

1 Answer 1


This is a breach of the International Humanitarian Law

Article 52(1) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I provides: “Civilian objects shall not be the object of attack.”

Article 3(7) of the 1996 Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons provides: “It is prohibited in all circumstances to direct [mines, booby-traps and other devices], either in offence, defence or by way of reprisals, against … civilian objects”.

Pursuant to Article 8(2)(b)(ii) of the 1998 ICC Statute, “[i]ntentionally directing attacks against civilian objects, that is, objects which are not military objectives” constitutes a war crime in international armed conflicts.

  • 1
    This could be considered economic warfare. Denying Russia income is a military objective. And the pipeline is hardly a "civilian" object, it is state owned.
    – Tiger Guy
    Sep 29, 2022 at 18:34
  • But the question is about environmental impact, and the answer about civilian/military status. Is there any law of war prohibiting striking of non-civilian target in a environmentally disastrous way? @TigerGuy So is a school (state-owned and source of qualified personnel) or civilian population (source of income - think "workforce" and "taxpayers", not to mention its military potential as "soldiers to be mobilized"). It is well recognized that striking either school or civilian population in general is a war crime.
    – abukaj
    Oct 13, 2022 at 17:38

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