At least 50 metres of the underwater Nord Stream gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea is thought to have been destroyed by a series of explosions in late September. Video film shot by the Norwegian robotics company Blueye Robotics, and recently published by Swedish newspaper Expressen, appears to show a huge rupture in the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which was constructed to bring Russian gas to Germany. Danish police believe "powerful explosions" blew four holes in the pipeline and its twin, the as yet uncommissioned Nord Stream 2, in the Danish exclusive economic zone. Nord Stream 2 was still awaiting clearance for use when Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
Although the cause has not yet been officially identified, political leaders in Europe and the United States have suggested that the incident was an act of sabotage, and much of the speculation about responsibility has focused on Russia, whose state-controlled energy company, Gazprom, is the main owner of the pipelines.
Western leaders have stopped short of directly accusing Russia but the EU has previously accused Russia of using its gas supplies as a weapon against the West over its support for Ukraine. The Kremlin has responded by accusing Western investigators of seeking to blame Russia for the damage. ‘Elementary logic’ shows damaging the pipeline was not in the Russian interest, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on 18 October.
German, Danish, and Swedish authorities have all been investigating the incident but Swedish prosecutors reportedly rejected a joint investigation out of fears of sharing sensitive information related to national security.
Russia previously demanded to be involved in any investigations, saying the damage was in international waters, but Denmark and Sweden refused.
The Nord Stream 1 pipeline has not transported any gas since August when Russia closed it down, saying it needed maintenance. It stretches 1200km from the Russian coast near St Petersburg to north-eastern Germany.
- The German government shelved the Nord Stream 2 project in February, when Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. Nord Stream 1 appears to be part of a wider Russian strategy of leveraging energy against Europe as punishment for opposing the war. Nord Stream 1 has not moved gas into Europe for weeks, with Russia citing maintenance reasons for closing the line. Europe widely interprets the shut-off as a threat that Russia could cut off Ukraine’s allies from its gas supplies as winter approaches.