Berlin suspects the pipelines were targeted on purpose, but has stopped short of assigning blame, WSJ reports
The explosions that tore through the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines last month were likely caused by sabotage, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing German officials familiar with the investigation. Earlier, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that NATO conducted a military exercise this summer near the location where the leaks were found.
According to the newspaper, while German investigators have so far failed to definitively identify the culprits, they are “worked under the assumption that Russia was behind the blasts.” Moscow has repeatedly denied it had anything to do with the incident.
German officials reportedly believe the alleged attack was unlikely to have been carried out by a military submarine, given that the Baltic Sea around Denmark’s Bornholm Island, where the explosions occurred, is relatively shallow. This would make it difficult for submarines to operate without being detected. According to one theory, an explosive charge may have been dropped from a ship and detonated remotely, sources told the WSJ.
On Tuesday, Copenhagen police said the preliminary investigation into the Nord Stream leaks suggests they were caused by “powerful explosions”, without giving further details.
The pipelines, which were built to deliver Russian natural gas directly to Germany, abruptly lost pressure on September 26, following a series of underwater explosions off Bornholm, within the economic zones of Denmark and Sweden.
Moscow has condemned the incident as a terrorist attack and is calling for an investigation into the matter. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted that this summer NATO conducted military exercises not far from Bornholm. She was apparently speaking about the BALTOPS 2022 exercises held in June, there “deep sea equipment” was used intensively.
According to Germany’s Ministry of the Interior, Sweden rejected a plan to establish a joint investigation group with Berlin and Denmark. Stockholm argued that its own results are too sensitive to share with other EU member states, Reuters reported.
All three nations have said they will not give Russia access to the investigation. This prompted Moscow to convene the German, Danish and Swedish envoys, while declaring that they would not recognize the results of the investigation unless Russian experts were invited to participate.