Russia aggrieved at Germany, Denmark and Sweden over Nord Stream probe

Russia's foreign ministry said Thursday it had summoned envoys of Germany, Denmark and Sweden to express "bewilderment" over Moscow's exclusion from an investigation into leaks on the Nord Stream pipelines.

Russia aggrieved at Germany, Denmark and Sweden over Nord Stream probe
The Nord Stream gas leak in the Baltic Sea photographed from Swedish Coast Guard aircraft on September 22nd. Photo: Swedish Coast Guard

Multiple leaks were discovered on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines connecting Russia to Germany, further raising political tensions already sky high since the Kremlin invaded Ukraine in February. All four leaks were located near Danish island Bornholm.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the leaks were an act of “international terrorism” that would benefit the United States, Poland and Ukraine.

Both Moscow and Washington have denied responsibility for the leaks, which were discovered in late September. Germany, Sweden and Denmark have formed a joint investigation unit to probe the apparent sabotage.

“The heads of the diplomatic missions of Germany, Denmark and Sweden in Moscow have been summoned to the Russian foreign ministry in recent days,” the Russian ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said it “expressed bewilderment” over the lack of an official response to a request from Russia’s Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin to involve Russian energy giant Gazprom and “representatives of the competent departments” from Russia in the investigation conducted by Berlin, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

The envoys were told that if Russian experts are not involved “Moscow will proceed from the fact that the named countries have something to hide or they are covering for the perpetrators of these terrorist acts”, the ministry said.

It added that Russia will not recognise any “pseudo-results” of an investigation without its experts.

A spokesman for the German federal prosecutor’s office said earlier this week that it was investigating “against persons unknown” on suspicion of “intentionally causing an explosive blast” and “sabotage” linked to the leaks.

Germany’s federal prosecutor’s office typically only opens investigations into cases involving national security such as terror attacks.

Sweden on Monday said it would not allow Russia to join the ongoing probe of the pipeline leaks but added that Moscow could carry out its own inspections.

Swedish prime minister Magdalena Andersson’s statement followed earlier requests from Russia to be included in investigations into the alleged sabotage.

“In Sweden, preliminary investigations are confidential, and this is of course also true in this case,” Andersson told a press conference.

Since the leaks occurred in international waters, albeit in the Swedish exclusive economic zone, Russia would be able to approach the site of the leaks., she said

“Now we have lifted the block and then it is also possible for other ships to be in the area, those are the rules,” she told reporters.

However, Andersson noted that in addition to the Swedish investigation, there be a “joint investigation team” under an EU framework.

READ ALSO: Sweden’s Nord Stream site inspection ‘strengthened sabotage suspicions’

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Denmark refuses Russia access to Nord Stream sabotage probe

Denmark says it will not give Russia permission to participate in investigations into the explosions at the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines.

Denmark refuses Russia access to Nord Stream sabotage probe

The Danish position was confirmed by Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen at a press briefing on Thursday.

“Denmark, Sweden and Germany all have rule of law and one can have confidence in our investigations,” Rasmussen said.

The three countries have, according to Rasmussen, each initiated investigations into the explosions at the Nord Stream pipelines on September 26th last year.

Russian president Vladimir Putin earlier this week said he wanted Denmark to allow Russia to take part in investigations.

Denmark has the right to control who participates in the investigations into the explosion that took place within the Danish economic zone. Two of the four leakages were in the Danish zone, and two in the Swedish.

Danish authorities were on Tuesday advised by Russian company Gazprom that an object had been detected close to the site of the Nord Stream 2 explosions.

“The owners of the Nord Stream pipeline are able to inspect the pipelines. It is in this context that an object was observed,” Rasmussun said.

“We have told the Russians that we will investigate this thoroughly. And when we have done that, we will announce the results of that investigation,” he said.

Four leaks emerged on the two Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea off the coast of the Danish island of Bornholm at the end of September, with seismic institutes reporting that they had recorded two underwater explosions prior to the leaks appearing.

While the leaks were in international waters, two of them were in the Danish exclusive economic zone and two in the Swedish one.

Investigations later showed the pipelines were ruptured by underwater explosives, but it remains uncertain who was behind the explosions.

The incident took place seven months after Russian forces invaded Ukraine.

Last week, Germany’s Die Zeit newspaper reported that German investigators suspect that the yacht Andromeda, which was owned by a Ukrainian, was used to plant the explosives on the pipeline. 

READ ALSO: Six months on, what do we know about the Nord Stream blasts?