The case of the Nord Stream bomber

Who blew up the Nord Stream pipelines? US officials say they have new clues.

What happened: Intelligence reviewed by US officials suggests a pro-Ukraine group was behind last year’s attack on two major pipelines linking Russia and Germany, per the New York Times. Officials remain unclear on the perpetrators' nationalities and see no evidence that the Ukrainian government was involved, leaving a lot of questions on the table. 

  • Other countries are still looking into the incident, with Sweden’s lead investigator explaining that not even Russia has been ruled out as the culprit. “It’s not logical,” he said. “But as in the case of a murder, you have to be open to all possibilities.”

Catch up: The Nord Stream pipeline was responsible for a third of Russia’s gas deliveries to Europe before the start of the war in Ukraine, and the newer Nord Stream 2 was supposed to expand capacity further once operational. Explosions tore through the gas pipelines in September, leading to higher energy bills in Europe, and a lot of finger-pointing:

  • Ukraine and Poland blamed Russia, even though Russia made a lot of money selling gas to Germany through Nord Stream.
  • Russia kind of randomly blamed Britain.
  • Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh blamed the US, citing President Joe Biden’s pre-war warning that if Russia invaded Ukraine, America would “bring an end to” Nord Stream 2.
  • Ukraine fell under suspicion for its years-long opposition to the whole pipeline project.

Why it matters: Setting up a pro-Ukraine, anti-Putin group as the chief suspect risks undermining Western support for Ukraine. Ukraine’s allies probably aren’t too happy that a pro-Ukraine saboteur might be to blame for high gas bills.