After thorough investigations, the responsible Swedish public prosecutor is closing his investigation into the sabotage of the gas pipelines. Now all eyes are on his German colleagues.
The Swedish public prosecutor’s office is closing its investigation into the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea. It has been concluded that Swedish jurisdiction does not apply to the matter and there is therefore no longer any reason to continue the investigation, said public prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist, who is in charge of the investigation.
According to the Swedish intelligence service Säpo, the investigation showed that the sabotage was not directed against Sweden and therefore did not pose a threat to Swedish security. The knowledge collected by the Swedes could now benefit the German investigation.
Criticism from Moscow
Russia criticizes the termination of the investigation. “The decision is significant, and it is significant how it (the investigation) was ended,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to Russian agencies. To date, Russia has not been granted access to the results of the investigation. And now the case is simply being shelved, he criticized. Russian gas was pumped through the Baltic Sea to Germany via the pipelines until shortly after the start of Moscow’s war of aggression against Ukraine.
According to Peskov, the German government now has to prove how important it is to clarify the case. “German taxpayers and German companies suffer – companies lose their competitiveness without this gas,” he said.
On September 26, 2022, several explosions were registered near the Danish Baltic Sea island of Bornholm and a little later, four leaks were discovered in three of the four Nord Stream 1 and 2 lines. All spills occurred in international waters, two each in the exclusive economic zones of Sweden and Denmark. Investigations were then started in the two Scandinavian countries as well as in Germany.
“Investigation was systematic and thorough”
Less than two months later, Ljungqvist concluded that the leaks were the result of serious sabotage. “Analysis now carried out shows residues of explosives on several of the foreign bodies encountered,” he announced in November 2022. Shortly after the leaks were discovered, it was suspected that sabotage was behind it. It is still unclear who is responsible for this.
“The investigation was systematic and thorough,” said Ljungqvist. Among other things, numerous ship movements were analyzed. A comprehensive investigation was also carried out directly on site on the Baltic Sea. The authorities have now gained a good picture of the incidents. Nothing was found to indicate that Swedes or Swedish citizens were involved in the attack, which occurred in international waters. “Given the situation we have now, we can state that Swedish jurisdiction does not apply,” explained Ljungqvist.
The Swedish decision does not mean that the unresolved Nord Stream case will be completely closed: “The German investigation is continuing,” Ljungqvist made it clear. There was good cooperation with various countries during the investigation, especially Denmark and Germany, and we were also able to share information and situation reports on a regular basis. “As part of this legal cooperation, we were able to hand over material that can be used as evidence in the German investigation,” explained the Swede.
“No further information is currently being provided”
The Federal Prosecutor’s Office also announced that the German investigation was ongoing. “No further information is currently being provided,” said a spokeswoman in Karlsruhe.
Ljungqvist had already announced in the newspaper “Expressen” at the beginning of the week that a decision was pending from the Swedish side. “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, NDR, WDR and “Zeit” had already reported on Tuesday that the proceedings were apparently being discontinued.
The question of the perpetrator remains unclear even more than 16 months after the explosions on the gas pipelines. In a joint letter to the UN Security Council in July 2023, the UN embassies of Germany, Denmark and Sweden wrote that investigators had discovered traces of explosives on a suspicious sailing yacht. There is a suspicion that this was used to transport the explosives used in the sabotage, the letter said. It was discovered that the boat had been rented in the name of a person who had used documents intended to conceal the identity of the real renter.
The divers and the explosives
According to expert assessments, it is possible that trained divers could have planted explosive devices at the locations where the gas pipes were damaged, the letter continued. At the same time, it was also emphasized that it was not possible at that time to reliably clarify the identity of the perpetrators and their motives.
Nord Stream 1 and 2 each run as an underwater double strand over a distance of around 1,200 kilometers from Russia to Germany. Nord Stream 1 has supplied a large proportion of the gas imported into Europe since 2011. However, in the course of the confrontation with the West after the Russian attack on Ukraine, Moscow had throttled deliveries before the destruction and then stopped them completely. The newer Nord Stream 2 pipeline was already filled with gas, but was not yet in operation due to a lack of certification.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.