- Swedish and Danish authorities are currently conducting investigations to determine the culprit of the Nord Stream Pipeline sabotage.
- Investigators have recovered evidence, and it is being analyzed. The area has been reopened to maritime traffic.
- The Swedish Security Service confirmed that the evidence indicated several hundred pounds of explosives were used.
- Russia is protesting the investigation, which is being conducted without them.
- Scroll down to see the top suspects and the relative probability of guilt assigned to each.
The Russian Foreign Ministry protested the investigation. Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, said on October 6th, “(To) Not to allow the owner (of the pipelines) to witness the investigation means there is something to hide.”
Pipeline owner, Gazprom may be interviewed as a witness. Gazprom, however, does not have authority in Sweden or Denmark, where the crimes occurred. Gazprom is free to conduct its investigation, but Sweden and Denmark are prudently preventing foreign powers from accessing the crime scene.
This is completely normal protocol for an investigation. For example, if a factory or plant is consumed by fire, the factory owner does not help to conduct the investigation. They are a suspect until proven otherwise. Interference from external parties does not help the investigators.
Statement by Swedish Defense Minsitry
Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvis, stated that foreign powers are not usually invited to participate in a criminal investigation.
Include the Russians in an investigation would bring few benefits, other than the opportunity for interference. Russia should let the investigation to continue and await the results. Of course if Russia, and/or its allies, are responsible, then the need to interfere with the investigation becomes critical. Russia also needs to be able to claim that the investigation was illegitimate with their guilt becomes public,
Why does Russia want to be involved Nord Stream investigation?
Russia has two primary reasons for wanting to be involved:
- Possibility #1:
Russia, or its allies, were responsible for the pipelines blast. The Russian commandos responsible would have taken every precaution to not leave any evidence behind linking the explosion back to Russia. There is still a high chance that a mistake or misstep was made. The Swedish and Danish teams will likely use advanced forensic techniques and technology. They are likely to turn up strong evidence linking someone to the sabotage. It is very possible that the CIA are working with their Swedish and Danish counterparts to enable the use of advanced capabilities, teams, labs and equipment.
The U.S. has an extremely good track record of investigating terrorism, identifying the perpetrators and either bringing them to justice, or eliminating those responsible through strikes or special forces missions. Due to this fact, Russian agents would very much like to intercept and destroy evidence to hide their crime.
Another strong possibility is that Russia wishes to plant evidence to incriminate the U.S. or its allies.
- Possibility #2:
Russia wishes to monitor the investigation to make sure that no one tampers with evidence and that the investigation is conducted thoroughly. This is the least likely possibility of the two.
The most likely reason why Russia insists on being part of the investigation is to interfere, tamper with and plant evidence. Russia is not known for conducting unbiased investigations or an independent legal system. In fact, Russia is widely recognized for a lack of accountability and a legal system that operates on behalf of the Kremlin to persecute the political enemies of Vladimir Putin.
Who are the leading suspects in the Nord Stream Pipeline sabotage?
Here are the leading suspects in the Nord Stream Pipeline sabotage case, and the probability of guilt:
|RUSSIA or Allies||Gain support at home|
Raise nat. gas prices
|Special Operations Forces (SOF)||Russia has naval bases at Kaliningrad, St. Petersburg||80%|
|U.S. or Allies||Gain support at home and abroad to supply more arms to Ukraine||Many special forces teams under Special Operations Command (SOCOM)||The U.S. has ships, aircraft and special ops teams that can be quickly deployed to the Baltic||12%|
|UKRAINE||Strike a blow against the enemy||Special forces inherited from Soviet era||The Crimea bridge attack, Daria Dugina assassination ||4%|
|NORTH KOREA||Gain attention||Special forces, including maritime units||Navy operates mainly within 50 km of North Korea||1%|
|CHINA||Weaken the West, support Russia||World Class special forces, including the Water Dragons||Chinese Navy has operations in the Baltic Sea||1%|
|IRAN||Strike a blow against the West||Quds force, has been active in U.S., South America and Middle East||Navy limited to Persian Gulf, Sea of Oman and Indian Ocean||1%|
Russia: Suspect number 1
In recent days, the probability that Russia was behind the Nord Steam pipeline sabotage has increased as additional incriminating circumstantial evidence has emerged:
- One Nord Stream 2 string remains intact (each pipeline has two strings). Russia has the greatest interest in preserving a way to deliver natural gas to Europe. While destroying subsea infrastructure is a costly method to galvanize support at home, it is a wise insurance policy to leave one pipeline string intact.
- Russia benefits from higher natural gas prices. Since the pipelines were not in use due to suspicious Russian maintenance claims, destroying three mothballed pipeline strings would be valuable to create fear in the energy markets, and spike prices.
- Russia insists that any investigation which takes place without Gazprom, or Russian officials, cannot be trusted. This is false. Many crime scene investigations are carried out independently of facility owners and foreign government officials. Russia’s protests merely implicate the country further.
U.S.: Suspect number 2
The U.S. is the second most likely perpetrator of the Nord Stream pipelines sabotage, due to its capability, opportunity and long history of covert action. However, if the U.S. decided to take the reckless action of detonating charges under the Baltic, why wouldn’t they target all four strings? If this were a U.S. operation, we are confident that the job would have been completed.
The pipelines were not in use, and thus its loss was minimal. The most useful motive for the U.S. would be to further bolster support at home for more spending. But support in the U.S. is already high. Ukrainian flags flying over suburban homes all over the country indicate solidarity with President Biden’s policy.
The U.S. and its allies have a greater incentive to leave the pipelines intact as negotiating leverage for Russia. A potential cease-fire agreement could include the eventual reopening of the pipeline. Russia would then resume sales of natural gas to Europe – which is badly needed by the manufacturing sector.
Ukrainian forces have accomplished many operations behind enemy lines including: the Crimea bridge blast, the assassination of Daria Dugina, daughter of a prominent Russian nationalist and the destruction of a fuel depot in Belgorod,
Ukraine, however, is blockaded by the Russian Black Sea fleet, and the airspace is pretty much closed down by Russia.
Given that Ukraine is busy fighting Russia within its own borders and lack the ability to sail or fly to the Baltic Sea, it would be easy to assume that Ukraine is not capable to pull off such an operation. But it is possible, just not as likely. A Ukrainian mission, supported by CIA assets, teams, and equipment is certainly a possibility
China has invested in its special forces significantly in recent years, and likely has the capability to pull off a mission in the Baltic Sea. The Chinese navy has operated in the Baltic in the past. However, I believe the Chinese are not brash enough to take on the Nord Stream Sabotage, and have little to gain. But little is more than zero, which is why I give China a 1% chance of having blown up the Nord Stream pipelines.
The Quds force of Iran has carried out international acts of terrorism, in the U.S. (attempted), South America and in the Middle East. The Iranian navy, however, operates mainly in the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean. Iran has ambitions of operating its Navy in the Atlantic Ocean, but that is a wistful dream currently for the Islamic Republic.
North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, is focused on launching missiles to terrify his neighbors. The North Korean navy mainly operates within 50 kilometers of its exclusive economic zone.
This has been the North Korean playbook: to fire off a few missiles, intimidate their neighbors and gain world attention.
The Swedes currently have evidence and are analyzing it. The Danes are conducting their own investigation in their territorial waters. Until the analysis of the evidence is released, we can only speculate based on facts. Currently, the fingers pointed at Russia are warranted, but we eagerly anticipate more information.
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