„Goodbye, Nord Stream” (III)

Berlin refuses to provide any information on the Nord Stream 2 investigations. Sweden maintains excessive secrecy. This again raises questions pertaining to the US naval presence off Bornholm prior to the blasts.

BERLIN/STOCKHOLM (Own report) – Citing “secrecy interests”, the German government refuses to provide any information on the state of the investigation of the attack on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines. Germany’s foreign ministry claims that even a simple answer to the parliamentary inquiry about “NATO vessels and military units” were near the site in question off Bornholm during the days immediately prior to the attacks, “would entail the disclosure of information that would particularly affect the welfare of the state.” Previously, Sweden had already refused any participation in a joint investigation team with Denmark and Germany, on the grounds that the confidentiality level of the findings, so far, precludes any international cooperation. Banalities are again being presented as “findings” such as the fact that a powerful explosion destroyed the pipelines and that “sabotage” can be assumed. The warships, whose presence near the site in question cannot be disclosed for reasons “of state welfare” include those of the Untitled States and other NATO countries.

“Too Sensitive”

Sweden caused a bit of a stir, when, during the initial efforts to investigate the attacks on both Nord Stream pipelines, it opted out of the initially planned joint investigation with Denmark and Germany and categorically rejected the establishment of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT), claiming that “the confidentiality level of the results of its investigation was too high to share them with other states.”[1] This is surprising – not least of all because all three countries are already cooperating closely within the EU and, in addition, because Sweden is preparing for joint NATO membership with Denmark and Germany. Already on October 6, the public prosecutor's office in Stockholm refused to present any details on its investigation, saying the case was “too sensitive.”[2] Denmark, in turn, used Sweden’s rejection of a joint investigation, to opt out of cooperation with Germany in this case.[3] Since then, all three states have been proceeding separately in their investigations on a purely national basis.

"Anti-Constitutional Sabotage"

Meanwhile, the Federal Public Prosecutor's Office has meanwhile opened investigations in Germany, declaring the attacks a “serious, violent assault on the energy supplies” and that there are grounds for suspecting “anti-constitutional sabotage.”[4] What is not quite clear, however, is why German authorities would be responsible for investigating attacks in Danish or Swedish waters. Nevertheless, the German Federal Police and Navy were engaged in investigations at the scene of the crime last week. According to reports, the minehunter “Dillingen” and a general-purpose vessel the „Mittelgrund“ were dispatched to the waters at the scene of the explosions to take pictures with the underwater drone “Sea Cat.”[5] The photos apparently show craters, and at least in one place a leak of eight meters. To cause such serious damage, an explosive power of 500 kilograms of TNT is needed, authorities estimate. No further details are known.

“No Information”

In the meantime, the German government is refusing to make any public statements on the matter, as can be seen from answers received from the ministries of the economy and of foreign affairs to inquiries made in the Bundestag. For example, the ministry of the economy declared: “until now, it has been impossible to carry out investigations at the scene.” The German government has, therefore, no reliable information pertaining to the possible causes for the attack.”[6] It is not really apparent, how this claim relates to the activities of the Federal Police and German Navy at the scene of the crime. The government does not even provide information concerning the concrete steps being taken to investigate the attacks.

Secrecy Interests

As the justification for its ironclad silence, the government says it has, “after careful consideration, come to the conclusion that no further information can be given for reasons of welfare of the state,” not even to the Bundestag’s Secret Documentation Office.[7] “The requested information,”alleges the response to a parliamentary question posed by Left Party parliamentarian, Sahra Wagenknecht “thus affects secrecy interests that must be protected to such an extent that ... the parliamentarians’ right to ask questions must, exceptionally, take second place to the federal government’s secrecy interests.” Even answering the simple question of “which NATO vessels and military units” were in the maritime vicinity of the crime scene during the days immediately preceding the attack “would entail the disclosure of information that would particularly affect the welfare of the state,” alleges the Green-led ministry of the economy. No information may be divulged in any form whatsoever, neither publicly nor to the parliament, “because even the minute risk of it becoming public knowledge cannot be tolerated.”

Fake Explosives off Bornholm

The answer is even more irritating, since it is long-since public knowledge that within the timeframe in question, several warships were in the vicinity of the crime scene. For example, from early August to September 22, a US fleet was cruising through the Baltic Sea – “the largest US naval battle group since the cold war ended,” it is said.[8] A few days before leaving the Baltic Sea, the group around the USS Kearsage amphibian landing vessel made a stop off Bornholm. Already back in June, “the USS Kearsage had participated in this year’s Baltic Operations (BALTOPS), which with more than 45 ships, over 75 aircraft and 7,000 troops from 14 NATO members and 2 future NATO members (Finland, Sweden), was carried out, and was considered a threatening gesture toward Russia.”[9] In the course of the BALTOPS, US units were exercising mine hunting off the coast of Bornholm, where divers would plant dummy explosive devices that would then be disarmed. During the operations, according to NATO, the latest advancements in Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) mine hunting technology were tested. Another objective was to increase the communication range and data transfer capability to drones, to give the operators more flexibility in their use.[10] Experts have repeatedly explained that the explosive devices could as well have been deposited on the Nord Stream pipelines by civilian vessels. The German government’s excessive secrecy now raises questions about the background.


For more information on this theme: „Goodbye, Nord Stream“ and „Goodbye, Nord Stream“ (II).


[1] Schweden lässt gemeinsame Pipeline-Ermittlungen platzen. spiegel.de 14.10.2022.

[2] Malte Kirchner: Nord Stream 1 und 2: Ermittlungen am Tatort erhärten Sabotageverdacht. heise.de 06.10.2022.

[3] Michael Götschenberg: Keine gemeinsamen Ermittlungen. tagesschau.de 14.10.2022.

[4] Bundesanwaltschaft leitet Ermittlungen ein. tagesschau.de 10.10.2022.

[5] Deutsche Marine: Boote zurück von Nord-Stream-Aufklärungsmission. handelsblatt.com 14.10.2022.

[6], [7] Christine Dankbar: Sahra Wagenknecht: Regierung verweigert Informationen zu Pipeline-Anschlägen. berliner-zeitung.de 16.10.2022.

[8] US Navy zeigt Flagge in der östlichen Ostsee. ndr.de 03.08.2022.

[9] Manöver BALTOPS 22 startet im Juni. marineforum.online 07.06.2022.

[10] BALTOPS 22: A perfect opportunity for research and testing new technology. sfn.nato.int 12.06.2022.