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Sweden Closes Investigation Into Nord Stream Pipeline Explosions

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The Swedish authorities on Wednesday closed a more than yearlong investigation into the undersea attack on the Nord Stream pipelines, citing a lack of authority to further pursue those responsible for sabotaging the critical piece of energy infrastructure intended to supply Western Europe with Russian gas.

“Sweden does not have the jurisdiction to investigate this matter further,” the Swedish Security Service said in a statement on Wednesday. The September 2022 attack on the natural gas pipelines — just seven months after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine — prompted rampant public speculation about who was to blame. Assigning responsibility for the attacks seemed urgent for Europe when Russia was viewed as a possible perpetrator, but the matter grew increasingly complex over the past year after intelligence suggested that the sabotage had been carried out by a pro-Ukraine group.

The series of underwater explosions ripped holes in three of the four strands of Nord Stream pipelines and led officials to conclude that they were most likely caused by a state actor. Some saw the attacks, which came close to damaging a cable supplying electricity from Sweden to Poland, as a warning that raised concern about what other infrastructure could be vulnerable.

The blasts occurred in international waters but in the economic zones of Sweden and Denmark, which gave those nations a hook to investigate.

The crime scene, along the floor of the Baltic Sea, provided little concrete evidence, something the Swedish authorities acknowledged in the early months of the investigation even as they closely guarded their inquiry and declined to join their investigative forces with the authorities in Denmark and Germany.

On Wednesday, the Swedish authorities said that their investigation had been “opened in order to examine whether the sabotage targeted Sweden and thereby threatened the security of Sweden, and it was determined that this was not the case.”

The Swedish Security Service cited intensive cooperation with other international authorities and said that the findings of the investigation had been shared.

After the attacks, Poland and Ukraine both openly blamed Russia, though without citing evidence. Russia in turn accused the United States, Britain and Ukraine, also without evidence.

Last year, after intelligence suggested that a pro-Ukraine group had carried out the sabotage, U.S. officials who reviewed the findings said that they had no indication that Ukrainian government officials had any ties to the operation.

Various other clues then emerged that stoked further public speculation and competing narratives.

Mats Ljungqvist, a senior prosecutor leading Sweden’s investigation, suggested to The New York Times last year that he had his own suspicions.

“Do I think it was Russia that blew up Nord Stream? I never thought so,” he said. “It’s not logical. But as in the case of a murder, you have to be open to all possibilities.”

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