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Conflicts, Military and WarUnraveling the Enigma: One Year After the Nord Stream Pipeline Sabotage, Questions Still Linger

Unraveling the Enigma: One Year After the Nord Stream Pipeline Sabotage, Questions Still Linger

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It’s been a year since the Nord Stream pipelines, designed to transport natural gas from Russia to Europe, were severely damaged by underwater explosions. The incident occurred on September 26, 2022, and was immediately condemned by Western officials as a dangerous act of sabotage. The attack had far-reaching implications, not only threatening the critical infrastructure of a European Union member state but also potentially drawing NATO into the conflict. The timing was particularly sensitive, as Europe was in the process of reducing its reliance on Russian energy.

Despite the gravity of the situation, the subsequent months have yielded few answers. Investigations in three countries—Germany, Denmark, and Sweden—have been inconclusive, leaving the question of who was behind the attacks unanswered. Various theories have emerged, implicating Russia, Ukraine, and even the United States, but none have been substantiated. According to Barron’s, Sweden’s public prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist has stated that the “primary assumption is that a state is behind it.”

The Nord Stream pipelines have been a subject of geopolitical tension for years. Russia’s energy giant Gazprom had already halted flows through Nord Stream 1 amid disputes over the war in Ukraine. The newly completed Nord Stream 2 pipelines never opened, as Berlin pulled the plug on the project just days before Russian troops entered Ukraine. The $10.6 billion Nord Stream 2 project had long been opposed by Ukraine, the United States, and eastern European countries, who feared it would give Russia too much influence over Germany’s energy security.

The investigations have been shrouded in secrecy, likely due to the potential diplomatic fallout. German federal prosecutors, for instance, searched a sailing yacht in January that may have been used to transport the explosives. They found traces of explosives but have refused to comment further. Investigative journalists have also been on the case, leading to sometimes sensational—if unconfirmed—reports. Dutch military intelligence had warned the CIA of a Ukrainian plan to blow up the pipelines three months before the attack, according to Dutch broadcaster NOS and Germany’s Die Zeit and ARD.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly denied his country’s involvement. In an interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper, he stated, “I would never do that,” and asked for proof. The New York Times reported in March that U.S. officials had seen intelligence indicating that a “pro-Ukrainian group” was responsible, but without Zelenskyy’s knowledge. However, Danish media have reported that a Russian naval vessel specialized in submarine operations was photographed near the site of the blasts days before the attack, adding another layer of complexity to the situation.

In the absence of hard evidence, the theories continue to multiply. Some experts, such as Andreas Umland, an analyst at the Stockholm Centre for Eastern European Studies, see Russia as “the most likely” culprit. He suggests that any suspected involvement by Kyiv in an attack on Europe’s energy infrastructure could threaten the support of allies, which would benefit Russia. At the same time, the destroyed pipelines could help Gazprom avoid compensation claims for undelivered gas.

As the one-year anniversary of the Nord Stream pipeline attack passes, the mystery remains unsolved, leaving the international community in a state of uneasy speculation. The incident serves as a stark reminder of the fragile state of global geopolitics and the potential for unforeseen events to ignite broader conflicts. With investigations still ongoing and no clear answers in sight, the Nord Stream sabotage continues to be a geopolitical enigma that has yet to be unraveled.


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Muzaffar Ahmad Noori Bajwa
Muzaffar Ahmad Noori Bajwa
Editor-in-chief, The Eastern Herald. Counter terrorism, diplomacy, Middle East affairs, Russian affairs and International policy expert.

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