Sweden to drop inquiry into Nord Stream pipeline explosions

Swedish prosecutors have said they will end their investigation into the sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines in 2022, dodging the question of who destroyed the then new energy link between Russia and Europe shortly after Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

After a 16-month inquiry, the investigators concluded they did not have jurisdiction in the case because Sweden’s citizens and interests had not been harmed. “The conclusion of the investigation is that Swedish jurisdiction does not apply and that the investigation therefore should be closed,” the Swedish prosecution authority said on Wednesday.

The multibillion-dollar Nord Stream pipelines transporting Russian gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea were ruptured by a series of blasts in Swedish and Danish waters in September 2022, releasing vast amounts of methane into the air.

Authorities in Denmark and Germany will continue separate investigations into the attack, considered one of the most audacious acts of industrial espionage in recent memory. The leaks in the Baltic Sea were the largest single release of methane ever recorded, the UN environment programme said.

Sweden and Denmark had said explosives were used in the blast, and Mats Ljungqvist, the prosecutor leading the Swedish investigation, had said a “state actor” was likely to be behind the attack. Neither country had named a suspect.

A UN report said the three undersea explosions that ruptured the pipelines were equivalent to the power of several hundred kilograms of explosives.

European leaders blame sabotage as gas pours into Baltic from Nord Stream pipelines – video report

Russia has blamed the west, and specifically the US, for the blasts, saying Washington wanted to halt shipments of Russian gas to Europe. On Wednesday, the Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, criticised the decision to end the investigation and said Moscow was now looking to see whether Germany would continue with its inquiry.

“Germany is the country that has lost a very important asset. German companies took part in a joint venture operating the pipelines that were blown up in the terror attack on this critical infrastructure,” Peskov said.

US officials initially blamed Russia, while the New York Times and other US media reported that a pro-Ukrainian group unaffiliated with the government may have been involved.

Ukraine has denied any involvement in the blast.

The media reports focused on a yacht identified as the Andromeda, which had travelled in the waters above the pipeline before the blast. It was reportedly carrying six people and had been chartered in Germany and travelled to Denmark and Poland before the blast.

But others, including investigators, have dismissed the reports, saying it would be difficult for a small team on a pleasure boat to plant the amount of explosives necessary to produce the blast that seismologists registered at a 2.5 on the Richter scale.

Germany’s defence minister last year suggested the attack could have been a “false flag” to incriminate Ukraine.

Swedish prosecutors said they had conducted an analysis of maritime traffic, an examination of the crime scene, and interrogations. They said the investigation was “to establish whether Swedish citizens were involved in the act and whether Swedish territory was used to carry out the act, and thereby risked damaging Swedish interests or Sweden’s security”.

Ljungqvist told Reuters: “We have a picture of what has happened, and what that picture consists of we cannot go into more detail, but it leads to the conclusion that we do not have jurisdiction.”

Police in Copenhagen have said that Denmark should also conclude its investigation soon.


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