Who is behind last year’s explosions that damaged the Nord Stream gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea?
The answer could have far-reaching implications for energy security in Europe but could also threaten the unity of the West regarding support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression. It could also undermine efforts by Russia and China to blame the West.
However, almost six months after the sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipeline, there is still no accepted explanation. But a series of unconfirmed reports accusing Russia, the United States and Ukraine are filling a vacuum left by the press as the investigation continues.
The pipelines, known as Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2, are mainly owned by Russian state company Gazprom and carry natural gas from Russia to Europe to the central terminal in Germany.
Nord Stream was commissioned in 2011. Nord Stream 2 was completed in the fall of 2021 but was never commissioned as a result of Russian aggression in Ukraine in February 2022.
The pipelines bypass existing routes through Ukraine, which means that Ukraine not only loses revenue from transit fees, but cannot directly use the gas being transported.
On September 2, 2022, the Russian firm Gazprom stopped the flow of gas through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline citing issues related to European sanctions against Russia related to the attack in Ukraine.
Three weeks later, explosive explosions took Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 out of service, causing significant residual gas leaks in the pipelines.
The depth of the pipelines and the complexity of using underwater explosives gave rise to the idea that only a state actor with expertise would be able to pull off something like this.
US officials suggested Russia could be behind the blasts, while Russia blamed the United States and Britain.
Investigations by European countries, including Denmark where the pipelines pass, have not yet yielded final results.
US investigative journalist Seymour Hersch, known for exposing past US government abuses, published a lengthy report in February alleging that President Joe Biden ordered the sabotage, which Hersch said was carried out by the CIA with help of Norway.
The report, based on a single, unnamed source, has been categorically denied by the White House, the CIA and the State Department. No media network has been able to confirm the report.
Russia and China seized on the journalist Hersch’s writing, saying it was the basis for a new impartial investigation by the United Nations.
On Tuesday, reports in the US newspapers The New York Times, The Washington Post and German media cited US and other officials as saying there was evidence that Ukraine, or at least Ukrainian nationals, may have been responsible for the blasts. The Ukrainian government has denied involvement.
German newspaper Die Zeit and German public media outlets ARD and SWR reported that investigators believed five men and a woman used a yacht contracted by a Ukrainian company in Poland to carry out the attack. German federal prosecutors confirmed they had searched a ship in January.