Sweden Closes Its Investigation into Destruction of Nord Steam Pipeline

2024-02-10 15:00:03

The last time we checked into Sweden’s investigation of the Russian Nord Stream pipelines blowing up in the Baltic Sea, the Swedish prosecutors had found traces of explosives at the underwater site and declared that the incident was an act of “gross sabotage.”

Swedish authorities have concluded their investigation, but their conclusions did not offer much detail as to the cause of the destructive undersea detonation.

In Sweden, in whose economic zone the attack partly occurred, the issue remained so delicate that the nation wrapped its investigation in secrecy. It even refused to team up with its closest neighbors, Denmark and Germany, a sign of how nervous the issue was making officials in Stockholm at a moment when it is still maneuvering for acceptance into the NATO military alliance.

On Wednesday, after 16 months of closely guarding their findings, Swedish authorities finally published something — and reached no conclusion at all, at least in public. Sweden’s prosecutor said he was ending his inquiry and had turned over what it had found to the same countries with which the nation had previously declined to cooperate. German officials say their investigation is ongoing.

The Swedish inquiry began with considerable fanfare, as soon as it was clear that an act of sabotage had been responsible. The leading theory was that divers had planted underwater explosives in just the right place to do maximum damage. Because the attack took place partly in Sweden’s economic zone — though in international waters — Sweden opened a criminal investigation.

That investigation ended on Wednesday with what amounted to a press release, and no new findings. The conclusion, or rather the lack of a public one, underscored just how sensitive the issue remains.

Swedish authorities have now handed the evidence uncovered by their efforts over to German investigators.

Swedish Public Prosecutor Mats 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,” he said.

“It is not Sweden’s task to continue this investigation.”

Ljungqvist said the main task had been to establish whether Sweden or Swedish citizens were involved in the attack, which he said had taken place in international waters.

“The answer to that question is ‘no’ and there is nothing in this case that poses any risk to Sweden’s security now that we have seen how things stand,” he said.

…Denmark and Germany are carrying out separate investigations. A German government spokesperson said Berlin was still interested in solving the case.

Danish police said on Wednesday they expected to provide more information on their investigation “within a short time”.

Last summer, Germany investigators told the U.N. Security Council they had found traces of subsea explosives in samples taken from a yacht that it suspects “may have been used to transport the explosives” to blow up the Nord Stream gas pipelines.

… Germany has been investigating “the suspicious charter of a sailing yacht” that had been rented in a way to “hide the identity of the real charterer.” Germany was still investigating the precise course of the boat.

“It is suspected that the boat in question may have been used to transport the explosives that exploded at the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines,” the letter said of Germany’s inquiry. “Traces of subsea explosives were found in the samples taken from the boat during the investigation.”

“According to expert assessments, it is possible that trained divers could have attached explosives at the points where damage occurred to the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines, which are laid on the seabed at a depth of approx. 70 to 80 metres,” it said of Germany’s inquiry.




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