Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

Russia may use Nord Stream aftermath to cause more trouble

By Elisabeth Braw

03 Oct 2022 · 5 min read

Editor's Note

Could the investigations of the Nord Stream pipeline leaks lead to a standoff between Sweden, Denmark on one side and Russia on the other?

One favorite twist in any murder mystery playbook is when the detective turns out to be the murderer. That old scenario may be playing out in the Baltic Sea right now. Explosions in the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines last Monday were serious acts of aggression—falling just below the threshold of military violence. But the chief suspect is also the main detective.

Precisely because the sabotage was not a military attack, the act has not yet been officially attributed to a person or country, and the pipelines are ultimately Russian-owned, the Kremlin is dispatching naval vessels to join Nord Stream investigators at the leak sites. That means Russian government vessels are in Sweden’s and Denmark’s exclusive economic zones (EEZs), where Swedish and Danish maritime experts will, of course, be investigating too. Activity around the leaks pose a serious risk of escalation.

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