Exactly a year has elapsed since a series of underwater explosions rocked the Nord Stream pipelines, severing a crucial route for Russian gas exports to Europe. The incident heightened geopolitical tensions already in turmoil due to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Nevertheless, despite comprehensive investigations in three nations, the question of who is responsible for this act of sabotage remains shrouded in uncertainty.
Numerous theories have arisen, pointing fingers at Ukraine, Russia, or even the United States, although all three nations have vehemently denied any involvement.
Here’s what we currently know about the Nord Stream attack:
What Happened to the Nord Stream Pipelines?
On September 26, 2022, a series of underwater explosions damaged three of the four pipelines comprising Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2, resulting in a significant gas release into the Baltic Sea near Bornholm, Denmark.
Amid disagreements over the war in Ukraine, Russian energy giant Gazprom ceased gas flows through Nord Stream 1, the primary conduit for Russian natural gas to Germany, one month before the blasts.
The newly constructed Nord Stream 2 twin pipelines never became operational, as Berlin terminated the project just days before Russian forces entered Ukraine on February 24, 2022. This €10 billion ($10.6 billion) project had long faced opposition from Ukraine, the US, and Eastern European nations who feared it would grant Russia excessive influence over Germany’s energy security.
Ongoing Diplomatically Sensitive Investigations
The explosions occurred within the economic zones of Sweden and Denmark, prompting both countries to initiate investigations into the incident. So far, they have determined that the explosions were intentional but have yet to attribute responsibility.
Germany also launched its investigation, with federal prosecutors conducting a search of a yacht in January that may have been used to transport explosives. Objects were confiscated from the vessel, and traces of explosives were found.
Although there has been speculation in the media about a group of five men and one woman chartering the Andromeda yacht from Rostock port to carry out the operation, Germany’s prosecution office has refrained from commenting. They have emphasized that the identities of the perpetrators and their motives are subjects of ongoing investigations.
Analysts suggest that the three countries’ secrecy regarding their investigations is unsurprising, given the potential diplomatic ramifications of their findings.
Russia Points Fingers at the US
In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected the notion that Kyiv was responsible for the explosions and instead placed blame on the US. Putin remarked that the United States could be interested in halting the supply of Russian energy to the European market while promoting its energy volumes.
He further stated, “Such a powerful explosion at such depth could only have been carried out by experts backed by a state with the relevant technologies.”
Despite the passage of a year, the mystery surrounding the Nord Stream pipeline sabotage endures, with no definitive answers yet in sight.