Truth behind Nord Stream sabotage remains unclear one year on

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Aerial photo provided by the Swedish Coast Guard on Sept. 27, 2022 shows the gas leak from Nord Stream in the Baltic Sea. [Photo/The Swedish Coast Guard handout via Xinhua]

A year ago, the Nord Stream pipelines transporting natural gas from Russia to European markets were ruptured in a series of explosions underneath the Baltic Sea near Sweden and Denmark.

One year after the attack, investigations by Sweden, Denmark, and Germany, which excluded Russia, are still dragging on, yielding no substantive results.

Investigation dragging on

Running from Vyborg, Russia to Lubmin, Germany through the Baltic Sea, the Nord Stream twin pipelines were critical to Europe's energy security.

In 2021, the EU imported 83 percent of natural gas consumed, with nearly 50 percent of imports coming from Russia (153 billion cubic meters) and more than one-third of Russian imports through the Nord Stream (59.2 billion cubic meters), according to the European Council.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has protested that the three countries deliberately delayed the investigation and tried to conceal who was the black hander. It also voiced Russia's dissatisfaction with the opacity of the investigation and its refusal to engage with Russia.

In a joint letter dated February this year, the three countries told the United Nations Security Council that "investigations have not yet been concluded. At this point, it is not possible to say when they will be concluded." There has been no major breakthrough since then.

"The longer the delay, the more difficult it will be to collect evidence and find the truth, the more doubts and speculations will occur, and the less credible the results of the investigations will be," Geng Shuang, China's deputy permanent representative to the UN, told a Security Council briefing on the Nord Stream issue in July.

Geng urged all parties not to politicize investigations or use it as an opportunity for political manipulation, calling for an early release of the results of a country-specific investigation into the Nord Stream gas pipeline explosion.

Suspected U.S. involvement

Mats Ljungqvist, the Swedish prosecutor investigating the attack, said in April that a state actor "directly or at least indirectly behind all this" was the "absolute main scenario," without naming any country.

Caution from the European states is probably a result of the politically sensitive and inconvenient truth.

Western officials would rather not know who bombed the Nord Stream pipelines, lest they discover that their allies were responsible, the Washington Post reported in April.

"Leaders see little benefit from digging too deeply and finding an uncomfortable answer," the paper added, stating that officials "would rather not have to deal with the possibility that Ukraine or its allies were involved."

A 5,000-word investigative report in February, "How America Took Out The Nord Stream Pipeline," published by the Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh, appears all the more credible and logical among the many revelations.

Hersh revealed that the sabotage of the pipelines was a secret operation ordered by the White House, implemented by the CIA, and assisted by the Norwegian Navy. Such a scenario appears in accordance with U.S. President Joe Biden's statements in February last year that there would be no Nord Stream 2 if Russia attacked Ukraine -- "I promise you we will be able to do it."

Josep Puigsech, a Spanish expert on Russian affairs and contemporary history, has pointed to "a clear profit to be made" by the United States and a strengthening of its geopolitical influence over Germany.

"I'm increasingly convinced this was an action by the United States," said Puigsech, adding that the country has the most to gain from the destruction of the pipelines: forcing Russia's energy out of Europe while increasing Germany's dependence on it.

U.S. LNG flooding Europe

The implications of the attack on the Nord Stream pipelines are enormous, said Helga Zepp-LaRouche, founder and chairperson of the German think tank Schiller Institute.

She noted that the incident massively increased the immediate prospect of Europe's deindustrialization and its dependence on U.S. liquified natural gas.

In 2022, the United States boosted liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to Europe by 141 percent compared to 2021, surpassing Russia for the first time. In the first half of this year, the EU remains the primary buyer of U.S. LNG, which devours more than half of the EU LNG import market.

The price to move away from Russian energy is not cheap. The cost for the EU to replace Russian gas with green technologies by 2028 would be nearly 811 billion euros, according to a report released in May by Oxford researchers.

The skyrocketing costs are already causing a massive exodus of companies from Europe, and especially from Germany to the United States, Zepp-LaRouche said, stressing that all this means an assault on the living standards of the population. 

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