It’s a major international mystery with global consequences: Who was behind the explosions that damaged the Nord Stream gas pipelines last year in the Baltic Sea?
The answer has broad implications for European energy security but could also threaten Western unity over backing Ukraine in defending itself from Russia’s invasion. Or, it might shatter Russian and Chinese attempts to fix the blame on a hypocritical West.
Yet, nearly six months after the sabotage on the Russia-to-Germany pipelines, there is no accepted explanation. And a series of unconfirmed reports variously accusing Russia, the United States and Ukraine are filling an information vacuum as investigations into the blasts continue.
A look at the pipelines and what’s known about the explosions.
WHAT ARE THE NORD STREAM PIPELINES?
The pipelines, known as Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2, are majority-owned by Russia's state-run energy giant Gazprom and used to transport natural gas from Russia to Europe under the Baltic to their termini in Germany.
Nord Stream 1 was completed and came online in 2011. Nord Stream 2 was not finished until the fall of 2021 but never became operational due to the launch of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February, 2022.
WHY ARE THEY CONTROVERSIAL?
Both pipelines bypass existing routes that go through Ukraine, meaning not only that Ukraine loses income from transit fees but is unable to directly use the gas they carry.
Of perhaps greater concern to the West, the pipelines were seen as a move by Russia to gain further, if not almost complete, control over Europe's energy supplies. Many in the West fear that Russia will use energy as a political weapon against European countries as it has done in the past with former Soviet states.
Despite those concerns and over the objections of the Obama, Trump and Biden administrations, the German government under former Chancellor Angela Merkel moved ahead with the construction of the Nord Stream 2 project. The Biden administration waived sanctions against German entities involved in Nord Stream 2 after securing a pledge from Germany that it would allow backflows of gas into Ukraine and would act to shut the pipeline down should Russia try to use it to force political concessions.
After Russia's Feb 24, 2022, invasion of Ukraine, Germany withdrew permission for Nord Stream 2, which had not yet come online.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE PIPELINES?
First, Gazprom halted gas flows through Nord Stream 1 on Sept. 2, 2022, citing issues related to European sanctions imposed against Russia over the war in Ukraine.
Three weeks later, both Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 were hit by explosions that rendered them inoperable and caused significant leaks of gas that was idle in the pipelines. Some have said the blasts caused the worst release of methane in history, although the full extent of the environmental damage remains unclear.
The depth of the pipeline and the complexity of using underwater explosives lent credence to the idea that only a state actor with the expertise to handle such an operation could be responsible. But no one claimed responsibility.
In the immediate aftermath of the explosions, U.S. officials suggested Russia may have been to blame while Russia accused the United States and Britain of being behind them. Investigations by European nations, including Denmark, through whose waters the pipeline travels, and Germany have yet to yield conclusive results.
WHAT THEORIES HAVE BEEN REPORTED?
After months of few developments in the probes, American investigative journalist Seymour Hersch, known for past exposes of U.S. government malfeasance, self-published a lengthy report in February alleging that President Joe Biden had ordered the sabotage, which Hersch said was carried out by the CIA with Norwegian assistance.
That report, based on a single, unidentified source, has been flatly denied by the White House, the CIA and the State Department, and no other news organization has been able to corroborate it. Russia, followed by China, however, leaped on Hersch's reporting, saying it was grounds for a new and impartial investigation conducted by the United Nations.
On Tuesday, though, The New York Times, The Washington Post and German media published stories citing U.S. and other officials as saying there was evidence Ukraine, or at least Ukrainians, may have been responsible. The Ukrainian government has denied involvement.
Germany's Die Zeit newspaper and German public broadcasters ARD and SWR reported that investigators believed that five men and a woman used a yacht hired by a Ukrainian-owned company in Poland to carry out the attack. German federal prosecutors confirmed that a boat was searched in January but have not confirmed the reported findings.
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES FOR THOSE FOUND RESPONSIBLE?
The implications of a determination that Ukraine was behind the explosions are not entirely clear. It's unlikely it would result in an immediate loss of Western support for Ukraine in the war with Russia, but it might dampen enthusiasm for future assistance if it was found that Ukraine or its agents carried out such an operation in European waters.
A determination that the United States or a proxy was responsible would give Russia and China additional leverage to go after the U.S. and its allies as hypocrites in their demands for the rule of the law, sovereignty and territorial integrity to be respected.
A finding that Russia was behind the explosions would lend weight to Western claims that Moscow is in flagrant breach of international law and willing to use energy as a weapon against Europe.
There is no indication of when the European investigations will be complete — and it seems improbable, given the animosity and mistrust surrounding the Ukraine conflict, that its findings will be universally accepted.
Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed.© Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
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Yup, but oddly, leftist environmentalists suddenly don't care.
Germany has said that the size, scale and sophistication of the attack point to state sponsorship and that the the if the offending state thinks the attack will be without consequences, they are wrong.
I suspect the Germans know who did they and there will be retribution.
This is dead-centre conspiracy central. So just ask the conspiracy community. I am sure they "know". They will have done their own research.
And how do you know that, Bronco? I think I might come into that category and I think it is an environmental crime. Don't just invent straw men to support your "theories".
The article makes a point for each of those 3 suspects. There are other suspects too in the middle east, who would want less Russian oil available to Europe.
Read that the US provided acoustic recordings from that period to some of the investigators. These recordings can fingerprint ships in the area. That's 1 reason that the US wouldn't be involved, since they are providing aid in the search for the saboteurs. I don't see the CIA getting approval from Biden to do anything like this. They certainly wouldn't be able to do it without high-level approvals and support from the US Navy.
Russia has used oil previously to convey unhappiness with other countries. That should also be taken into account.
Ukraine definitely has multiple reasons as well, but I suspect their people capable of this sort of act would all be fighting Russians back in Ukraine. This would be impossible to prove, of course.
It’s another case or question of probabilities, comparable to those viruses origins. You can’t and won’t know 100% who is responsible or did it, but there are of course very different probabilities for all the sides who could be involved or interested.
Well it's obvious that Nato/US did it. They have started to run a narrative that 'pro-Ukrainians' did it after Sy Hersh released his Substack expose. The US narrative involves a yacht and reminds me of the french bombing of the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland NZ back in 1987. Pro-Ukrainians, well the US and Nato would fit this description so maybe in a roundabout way that are telling the truth.
Another mystery in the world. Will we ever know the truth behind it or the motivation?
Many people say governments can’t keep secrets etc, well there’s no loose lips giving details about this event
The only mystery here is that anyone actually believes there is a mystery. How can so many be so gullible?
Well, aside from saying in advance that they would do it, and a few cheers after it was done....
Every conspiracy theorist wet dream.
All the usual suspects have a motive.
So who done it?
Colonel Mustard, Miss Scarlet, Professor Plum, Mrs. Peacock, Mrs. White and Mr. Green?
Was it the China connection, or Rogue Russia, those pesky CIA American scallywags, don't forget UK secret service aided and abetted by Mr Bean with snorkel handy.
Then there is the blockbuster movie to enjoy.
You can almost catch a whiff of Arnie's cigar, is that Rambo lip wobbling, they drew first blood, not me.
Can you honestly suggest any are going to simply put there hand up?
Cui bono? Mainly the USA and Ukraine. Ukraine is too far away and probably not capable of such an operation, therefore it's the USA. Having said that, I'm sure they were careful to use non-Americans for the actual job of planting the bombs, but the brains, the planning and the funding were American for sure.
It is no mystery. Read Seymour Hersh!
Either the Russians did it as a false flag, or the Ukrainians did it, and the Russians deserve it.
Either way, if Russia hadn't invaded Ukraine, it wouldn't have happened, so it's all on Russia.
Well, some posters obviously have inside knowledge, as expected.
the Polish boat hired by Ukrainians is true
if that boot had anything to do with the destruction
we still don't know who planned, funded, and carried out anything.
I haven't seen any proof that the Polish boat was involved, just that it was in the area at the time.
State actors could have done it all from submarines.
Russian has over 50 nuclear attack subs.
USA has 70 total subs.
Ukraine doesn't have any subs. Russia illegally stole their last one in 2014.
Many countries with north sea access have sub fleets. Just sayin'.
There are lots of possible people behind this. I haven't any clue who is responsible. Heck, it could have been Germany, because they wanted to cut off Russian oil, but didn't want to have Russia think they were doing it by choice. Hard to say. I am inclined to think that the Ukrainian involvement is a false flag effort, if they were involved at all.
What or who would benefit most sabotaging Nord Stream gas pipelines?
And just as importantly why?
New reports highlight 3rd quarter impact of gas supply cuts
Europe and Russia without Nord Stream
I have selected some thoughts of winners and losers.