Denmark ends probe into 'deliberate' Nord Stream pipeline blasts

  • World
  • Monday, 26 Feb 2024

FILE PHOTO: Gas leak from Nord Stream 2 pipeline as seen from an Danish F-16 interceptor jet over Bornholm island, Denmark, September 27, 2022. Danish Defence Command/Forsvaret Ritzau Scanpix/via REUTERS/File Photo

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) -Denmark has dropped its investigation into the explosions in 2022 on the Nord Stream pipelines carrying Russian gas to Germany, police said on Monday, becoming the second nation to do so after Sweden closed its own inquiry.

The multi-billion dollar Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines transporting gas under the Baltic Sea were ruptured by a series of blasts in the Swedish and Danish economic zones in September 2022, releasing vast amounts of methane into the air.

The blasts occurred seven months after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which triggered a wide range of Western economic and financial sanctions against Moscow.

"The investigation has led the authorities to conclude that there was deliberate sabotage of the gas pipelines. However, the assessment is that there are not sufficient grounds to pursue a criminal case in Denmark," a Copenhagen police statement said.

Sweden earlier this month dropped its investigation into the explosions, saying it lacked jurisdiction in the case, but had handed uncovered evidence over to German investigators, who have yet to publish any findings.

A German government spokesperson said earlier this month that Berlin was still interested in solving the case.

Russia and the West, at loggerheads over Moscow's February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, have pointed fingers at one another over the pipeline blasts. Each has denied any involvement and no one has taken responsibility.

The Kremlin on Monday said the situation regarding the investigations was "close to absurd".

"On the one hand, there is recognition of deliberate sabotage, on the other hand, there is no further progress," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, adding Denmark had refused requests to provide information about its investigation.

The Danish prime minister's office did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on Peskov's assertion.

Danish police said they had been cooperating with relevant foreign partners and that the investigation they had conducted had been "both complex and comprehensive".

A police spokesperson declined to comment when asked by Reuters to elaborate on why there were insufficient grounds for continuing the investigation and on which authorities they had shared their findings with.

Danish police had previously said the pipelines were hit by powerful explosions and Swedish investigators confirmed that traces of explosives found on site conclusively showed that sabotage had occurred.

Last year, Germany told the U.N. Security Council it had found traces of subsea explosives on a sailing yacht that may have been used to transport the explosives, and that trained divers may have attached the explosives to the pipelines.

Russia has blamed the United States, Britain and Ukraine for the blasts, which largely cut Russian gas off from the lucrative European market. Those countries have denied involvement.

Some Western officials have said Russian naval vessels were in the area at the time of the blasts. Others have said there is no hard evidence to implicate Moscow, which called the suggestion it was behind the attacks "absurd".

(Reporting by Stine Jacobsen and Louise Breusch-Rasmussen in Copenhagen, and Dmitry Antonov in Moscow; editing by Terje Solsvik and Mark Heinrich)

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