Sweden has decided to close its investigation into the explosions on the Nord Stream gas pipelines in September 2022, stating they don’t have jurisdiction. The pipelines were built to transport Russian natural gas to Germany.
The Swedish probe was one of three investigations into the blasts, with Denmark and Germany also looking into the matter. The attack occurred as Europe was trying to reduce its reliance on Russian energy sources following Russia‘s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, adding to the tensions that followed the start of the war.
Public prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist from the Swedish Prosecution Authority said: “the investigation has been systematic and thorough”. He added: “Against the background of the situation we now have, we can state that Swedish jurisdiction does not apply.”
Ljungqvist also mentioned that the German investigation is ongoing but due to the secrecy surrounding international legal cooperation, he could not comment further. He also declined to comment on the conclusions of the Swedish investigation or any suspected individuals involved.
“We have had in-depth cooperation with the investigation conducted by the German authorities. Within the framework of this legal cooperation, we have been able to hand over material that can be used as evidence in the German investigation,” he said.
In an emailed response to questions about the impact of the Swedish decision and the state of their own investigation, German federal prosecutors said only that “our investigations are continuing”. They said they are not giving further information at present.
Copenhagen police, which are leading the Danish investigation, said their probe “is still not finally finished, but we expect to be able to make an announcement within a short time”.
Beyond the geopolitical impact, the Nord Stream pipelines leaks were a huge environmental disaster with local wildlife affected and huge volumes of methane discharged into the Baltic Sea in what analysts believe could be the single largest release of methane due to human activity.
The explosions happened about 80 meters under the water on the ocean floor in the Baltic Sea, in Sweden and Denmark’s economic zones. Seismic measurements showed that the blasts occurred just before the leaks were found. Over a year later, there’s still no agreed explanation for the sabotage. Unconfirmed reports blaming Russia, the US, and Ukraine are filling the information gap as investigations continue.
The pipelines have long been criticised by the US and some of its allies, who warned they could make Europe too reliant on Russian gas. Russian President Vladimir Putin and other officials have accused the US of causing the explosions, which they’ve called a terror attack. The US has denied any involvement.
In March 2023, German media reported that a pro-Ukraine group might have been involved in the sabotage, using a ship from the German port of Rostock. Ukraine denied it might have ordered the attack, and German officials were cautious about the accusation.
The German and Danish investigations haven’t yet shed light on the incident. Swedish prosecutors have said a state actor was likely to blame, but they warned that the perpetrator’s identity was still unclear and likely to stay that way.