Denmark finds ‘Deliberate Sabotage’ of Nord Stream – but ends probe with no charges

Feb 28, 2024
Pipeline laying with bomb on ocean bottom underwater. 3D rendering

The country is the second U.S. ally in the past month to end an investigation into the pipeline explosions.

Denmark became the latest country to close its investigation into the underwater explosions that caused leaks in two pipelines that were built to carry gas from Russia to Germany, with authorities saying they had found that “there was deliberate sabotage” of the infrastructure but would not go further in their probe to confirm who was behind the blasts.

“The assessment is that there are not sufficient grounds to pursue a criminal case,” said the Danish police, prompting criticism from Russian officials and other critics.

Since the gas leaks were discovered in September 2022, seven months after Russia invaded Ukraine, various observers have accused the two countries as well as the United States of being at fault.

The leaks—which experts said led to the single largest release of methane gas due to human activity—were discovered beneath the Baltic Sea, off the coast of the Danish island of Bornholm. Seismic institutes found that two explosions had occurred underwater just before the leaks were recorded.

Russian energy giant Gazprom owns a majority stake in the pipelines, with German, Dutch, and French companies also owning interests. Weeks before the leaks were discovered, Russia had intensified tensions in Europe by cutting gas supplies in suspected retaliation for sanctions against Moscow.

The U.S. was a longtime critic of the Nord Stream pipelines, arguing they would increase European dependence on Russia for energy.

Just before Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, U.S. President Joe Biden said in a joint news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that a Russia offensive would push the U.S. to “bring an end to” the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

But the U.S. has denied involvement in the explosions, saying in February 2023 that one report alleging U.S. sabotage published by veteran journalist Seymour Hersh was “false and complete fiction.”

Hersh reported, based on a single anonymous source who had “direct knowledge of the operational planning,” that Biden had authorised U.S. Navy divers to plant remotely triggered explosives that destroyed the Nord Stream pipelines, enlisting the help of the Norwegian Navy and secret service.

In March 2023, weeks after Hersh’s report was released, the U.S. and several Western allies opposed a United Nations Security Council resolution that aimed to launch an international probe into the Nord Stream explosions.

Earlier this month, Sweden concluded its own investigation, saying the case did not fall under its jurisdiction and noting that they had given “material that can be used as evidence” to German authorities for their probe. Swedish prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist said that the “primary assumption is that a state is behind it.”

The German federal prosecutor’s investigation is ongoing.

Journalist Thomas Fazi suggested U.S. allies have dropped their probes because they are “terrified of actually finding the culprit.”

The question of who caused the Nord Stream gas leaks, said  author Tony Norfield, “has troubled Swedish and Danish investigators so much, they have closed their inquiries. Just in case they uncover something embarrassing.”


Republished fro Common Dreams, February 24, 2024

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