Subscription 790/year or 190/quarter

Who was behind the explosion of Nord Stream 1 and 2?

SABOTAGE / Earlier this summer, the US Navy participated in an exercise with underwater vessels in the area off Bornholm – where the explosions of Nord Stream 1 and 2 took place in September. What were they doing there? For Russia, the purpose of the gas pipelines was to intertwine Russia with Europe. Could the USA's motivation have been to break up this cooperation and start an economic war against Europe – as, for example, Germany has now become dependent on their LNG gas?


On 20 January this year, the CIA chief William Burns in Berlin to meet the new Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Together with Scholz was his chief of staff, a couple of his close associates and the German intelligence chief Bruno Kahl. President Joe Biden wanted an immediate meeting with Scholz in Washington, but Scholz said he was busy, according to Der Spiegel. It was obvious that he would not stand alone in the White House in front of the US's demand to stop Nord Stream 2.

But then something happened. Two weeks later he traveled to Washington. On February 7, Scholz and Biden stood in front of the mass media in the White House. All the journalists asked about Nord Stream 2, and Scholz could not say anything. He only said that he would work together with the United States, but Biden said: "If Russia invades, if tanks and troops cross the border into Ukraine, then there will be no Nord Stream 2 anymore. We will end it ['There will no longer be a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it'].” The journalist asks: "But how do you want to do it, more exactly? The project is under German control, isn't it?' Biden replied: "I promise you, we will be able to do that" ['I promise you, we will be able to do that']. It was the most humiliating press conference I have ever seen. Scholz stood like a schoolboy next to Biden and could not say anything.

German dependence on the United States

President Biden briefly promised to eliminate the pipeline when Russia crossed the border. On February 22, two days before Russia entered Ukraine, Chancellor Scholz stopped Nord Stream 2. Scholz hardly had a choice. The US would have withdrawn the gas pipeline a few days later. Then it was better for Germany to stop it itself. If USA had stopped it purely physically, it would have been an act of war directed at Germany. Firstly, Scholz would hardly take responsibility for such a "war". Secondly, an "independent" German decision would allow Germany to be able to open the gas pipeline in a later case. At least that must be how Scholz thought. It appears in hindsight as the only reasonable explanation for why Scholz stopped the gas line.

For the US, the gas pipeline was the important thing. It was, to use the words of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, about replacing a German-Russian interdependence with a German dependence on the United States. The decision must have been taken already in 2014 {see history article}. But in the United States it was known that such a reshuffle presupposed that Germany was facing a war. The US had to trigger a German-Russian conflict. With the USA's development of military infrastructure in Ukraine in recent years and with promises of NATO membership for Ukraine did the US succeed in late 2021 in crossing the "reddest of all red lines" – to quote the US ambassador to Moscow, later CIA chief William Burns, in 2008 (to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice). The US had now done exactly what Russia had promised in 2008 to go to war for. The Ukrainian preparations in 2021 to recapture Crimea and Donbass also made it almost impossible for Russia not to intervene. And then Russia now kept its promise to go to war, it would be possible for the US to get Germany to stop Nord Stream 2. For the US, NATO expansion into Ukraine became an "instrument" to get Germany to accept US demands. The Ukraine war was triggered and initiated by the US to make Germany submit. For the United States, the war was thus aimed at Germany as much as it was aimed at Russia. Germany is now, to quote former Social Democratic party leader Oskar Lafontaine, "no longer a sovereign country".

American gas instead

Germany was previously 55 percent dependent on Russian gas. Now it has become necessary to replace much of the Russian gas with primarily American LNG. Norway has been able to increase its exports somewhat, but Germany are now forced to import expensive LNG at a price four times higher than the gas from Russia. This means that Norway has also been able to raise the prices of Norwegian gas.

The German economic miracle has been based on German engineering and cheap Russian gas.

The price of gas in Germany and in Europe in general has risen radically this year. Thousands of German companies will have to close (Der Spiegel, 30 September 2022). The German economic miracle has been based on German engineering and cheap Russian gas. Germany is heading not only for a cold winter, but also for an economic disaster, while US revenues set new records after increased exports of LNG.

Leader of the German environmental party Die Grünen, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, has also been the USA's supporter in Germany. She has long been a critic of the German-Russian gas pipelines. She wanted to stop them, with regard to the climate, but her allies' likely explosion of Nord Stream 1 and 2 has, after two weeks, led to emissions equivalent to emissions from all Norwegian car traffic for three and a half years, or emissions from all Norwegian gas and oil industry for a couple of years – or over 60 per cent of Norway's total emissions during a year (Aftenposten 30 September). But she doesn't want to talk about this. This clearly does not affect her support for US activities in Ukraine. Environmental considerations are not a priority for the environmental party.

These are the same instruments that are used to find gas lines.

In September, tens of thousands demonstrated in Germany against the gas prices and against the sanctions policy. 70 demonstrated in the Czech Republic. The USA had in practice started an economic war against Germany and against Europe. Vladimir Putin said on September 000: "If you want gas, then you can open Nord Stream 16." This must have created uncertainty in the United States. Would Germany now this year open up again to more gassdeliveries from Russia? At the very least, it must have led to the leaders in the USA who wanted to eliminate the gas line now wanting to "cut" it once and for all (see history article).

The explosions

Ten days later, on 26 September, both Nord Stream 1 and 2 were blown up just east of the Danish island of Bornholm at a depth of 70-80 metres. The one explosionone was more than 50 kilometers from the other. Swedish geological laboratories recorded two major explosions, which were also recorded in northern Sweden at a distance of more than 1 kilometers from Bornholm. Everyone agrees that the operation has been carried out professionally. Explosives had been placed on the outside of the pipe and cut it with great precision. These explosives could have been placed months in advance and triggered by a signal – if it was deemed necessary once and for all to prevent the German-Russian gas pipelines from becoming operational.

British vessels, the US Navy's amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge and the Sixth Fleet flagship USS Mount Whitney took part in the US-led exercise BALTOPS 22 (5-17 June 2022) immediately outside Bornholm – in the same area where the explosions took place – with the task of searching for bottom mines with a UUV (Unmanned Underwater Vehicle) and then disarming these with "explosives". But it is the same instruments that are used to find bottom mines and gas lines. Kearsarge also has a "well-deck" (a deck that can be filled with water to carry a small mini-submarine or a UUV). In short, it is not unlikely that the explosives on the gas line were placed out at this time.

USS Kearsarge was back in the Baltic Sea in August-September along with USS Gunston Hall and USS Arlington, all of which could carry mini submarineis. The previous ones left Poland (Gdynia and Gdańsk) between 19 and 22 September – and Kearsarge left the Baltic Sea on 22 September. According to the radar plot, a couple of its helicopters operated immediately east of Bornholm, and they followed Nord Stream 2 for a few kilometres.

Poland has been a strong opponent of the gas pipeline.

In April 2021, Nord Stream AG had also protested against Polish provocations with a vessel and a submarine operating against the ship that laid the gas pipeline. Poland has been a strong opponent of the gas pipeline. Former Polish foreign minister and current member of the European Parliament Radosław ("Radek") Sikorski wrote on Twitter on September 27 above an aerial photo of the gas leak: "Thank you, USA." As the matter was perceived as sensitive, his Twitter message was taken down. But there was hardly any doubt about his interpretation of the event. Perhaps it was also the case that Poland and Great Britain had contributed, but Sikorski would then point out that the USA was primarily responsible. Sikorski was Minister of Defense 2005–07 and Minister of Foreign Affairs 2007–14. On the European side, he has been a driving force in supporting Ukraine. He is the head of the European Parliament's delegation to the USA.

Sweden refused Russia to participate in a joint investigation

The Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter had an article on 30 September which showed that two (or more) Swedish naval vessels were in the area east of Bornholm on 22-24 September, in exactly the two positions where there were explosions two days later. Dagens Nyheter had examined AIS data from the vessels. The AIS signals were switched off for a total of 28 hours while the vessels were in the two positions. The Swedish Navy confirmed the information, but when the newspaper asked about the reason for being there, the answer was that it was classified. This seems to mean that the Swedish authorities knew where the explosives were located. Perhaps one should confirm to the US Navy that they were still there. Or should it be investigated whether the deployment of the explosives would disturb the Swedish Poland cable, which runs between the two northern blast sites? In any case, it is almost impossible to imagine that the Swedish authorities did not know what was about to happen.

Sweden refused to hand over intelligence on the grounds of "national security".

This became even more apparent when Sweden not only refused Russia to participate in a joint investigation, but also refused Denmark and Germany. Sweden refused to hand over intelligence on "national security" grounds, Swedish prosecutors said. Sweden initially did not give Russia, which owns more than 50 percent of the gas pipeline, access to the area, and it did not want to participate together with the Danish and German authorities in a requested joint investigation, since the matter was classified as confidential. "National security" in this case hardly means that Sweden was responsible, but it almost certainly means that the US was (possibly along with the Poles and British), implied as Sweden cannot disclose information from such countries. This means that the Swedish authorities know who is responsible, that it is an "allied state" and in all probability the USA. After Sweden had said it would not cooperate, the responsible German minister told parliament that Germany knew who was responsible, but that he could not say anything because of "national security" concerns.

Russia's role

There has been speculation in the media whether Russia could have been responsible for blowing up its own gas pipeline. In the US, almost everyone in the media has been talking about Russia. But that Russia would throw a giant project totaling NOK 100 billion out the window is absurd, and the geopolitical aspects are far more important than the money. It's like arguing that the Russians must have been responsible if someone had bombed Moscow to pieces, but what would Russia have to gain from that? The notion of a Russian "false flag" operation (of bombing itself to blame others) lacks credibility. It would also presuppose that the Russians could influence Western mass media, media which are today in all respects critical of Russian narratives.

For Russia, the purpose of the gas pipeline was also to connect Russia with Europe to ensure peace and economic growth in the future. The Russian Gazprom owns 51 percent of Nord Stream AG, the German Wintershall Dea owns 15,5 percent, the European-German E.ON owns 15,5 percent, the European Gasunie owns 9 percent, and the European ENGIE owns 9 percent. The claim that Moscow would in this way eliminate Russia's role as an actor in Europe is simply not something that can be taken seriously. Russia would also be able to stop all gas by simply turning the tap.

Then the American economist Jeffrey Sachs was interviewed by Bloomberg on October 3, he said that he had not met anyone outside the Western countries who believed that Russia could have been involved, and when he spoke to experienced Western journalists, they did not believe such a thing either, despite the fact that this is precisely what western journalists write in their newspapers. Bloomberg ended the interview.


On September 30, a few days after the explosion of Nord Stream 1 and 2, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken commented: "Ultimately, this also gives us a fantastic opportunity. It is a wonderful opportunity to end [Europeans'] dependence on Russian energy once and for all.” He continued: "It gives us a fantastic strategic opportunity in the coming years."


See also the case We should cut it off.

The case's references and sources so that our readers can check for themselves what is written here:

Markus Becker, "Germany Has Little Maneuvering Room in Ukraine Conflict", Der Spiegel, 21.1.22

The White House, President Biden and HE Scholz Participate in a Joint Press Conference.

Sarah Marsh and Madeline Chambers, "Germany freezes Nord Stream 2 gas project as Ukraine crisis deepens", Reuters, 22.2.22.

Interview with Condoleezza Rice ("Europäer selbst sind Teil des Ukraine-Problems"), N24/Welt (German TV), 16 May 2014.

"US-Ukraine Charter on Strategic Partnership, US Department of State", 10.11.21.

Ola Tunander, "Our road to the nuclear war", Vardøger, 40, 1.12.22.

William Burns, "New means new: Russia's NATO Enlargement Redlines" [Cable], 1.2.2008/23.12.21/2019 (published by WikiLeaks). Joshua Shifrinson and Stephen Wertheim, "Acting too aggressively on Ukraine may endanger it — and Taiwan", The Washington Post, XNUMX. Note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from Ambassador Burns, see William Burns, The Back Channel: American Diplomacy in a Disordered World (London: Hurst, XNUMX).

Oskar Lafontaine, "Deutschland handelt im Ukraine-Krieg als Vasall der USA", Berliner Zeitung, 30.8.22. (see also "Germany acts as a vassal for the USA",, 6.9.22).

Carole Nakhle, "Germany's scramble to revamp its energy policy", GIS Reports Online, 17.10.22. ; Frank Umbach, "Risks and requirements for German gas and energy policy", 8.9.22.

"German Jan-Aug gas import costs surge 189% despite 26% drop in; imports", Reuters, 17.10.22.

European Commission, Quarterly Report On European Gas Markets, 2022.

"Gas Market Report, Q4-2022", International Energy Agency, October 2022, p. 52.

Simon Book, "Händler schicken Brandbrief an Habeck", Der Spiegel, 30.9.22.

"Putin tells Europe: if you want gas then open Nord Stream 2", Reuters, 17.9.22.

"Seismologist: Two explosions next to Nord Stream", SVT, 27 9.22.

NATO, "BALTOPS 22: A perfect opportunity for research and testing new technology", 12.6.22.

Bobby Dixon, "Naval Oceanography's part in BALTOPS 2022", DVIDS, 13.6.22.

"USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker: Sept. 19, 2022" (updated 26.9.22/XNUMX/XNUMX).

Vladimir Afanasiev, "Submarines and trawlers: Nord Stream 2 director spots something fishy in the Baltic", 7.4.21.

Radosław Sikorski on Twitter, 27.9.22/XNUMX/XNUMX.

"Svenska navyen hade fartyg på plats before the explosions", Dagens Nyheter, 30.9.22.

"Sweden shuns formal joint investigation of Nord Stream leak, citing national security", Reuters, 14.10.22.

Nord Stream (Our Shareholders)

Bloomberg: This is a path of dangerous escalation, Bloomberg, 3.10.22.

Scott Ritter, "Pipelines v. USA", Consortium News, 12.10.22 (translated by, 31.10.22).

Ben Norton, "Who sabotaged Nord Stream pipelines? US boasts 'tremendous opportunity' to weaken Russia. CIA knew", Multipolarista, 6.10.22.

"Gas leakage causes large climate emissions", Naturvårsverket, 30.9.22,

Torgeir Strandberg and Stine Barstad, "The emissions are enormous", Aftenposten, 30.9.22.


Ola Tunander
Ola Tunander
Tunander is Professor Emeritus of PRIO. See also wikipedia, at PRIO: , as well as a bibliography on Waterstone

Related articles