Russia tells UN it has not been updated on Nord Stream probe

Joint letter to UN from Denmark, Sweden and Germany states that investigations into the explosions have not yet concluded

A gas leak in the Nord Stream pipeline in the Baltic Sea. AFP
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Russia has denied that Germany, Denmark and Sweden are providing it with updates on the investigations into last year's Nord Stream pipeline explosions.

Copenhagen, Stockholm and Berlin sent a joint letter to the UN last month stating that Moscow had been “informed” about investigations into the blasts that took out two key pipelines funnelling natural gas from Russia to Europe.

The three European countries said damage to the pipelines had been caused by “powerful explosions due to sabotage”.

But in a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Russia said it had not been updated on the progress of the investigations.

“Claims that the Russian authorities have been informed by Germany, Denmark and Sweden about the ongoing investigations into the September explosions cannot be further from the truth,” Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, said in the letter, seen by The National.

The Kremlin also accused the three countries of rejecting proposals by Moscow to establish joint investigative teams and refusing to “engage in political dialogue to co-operate in establishing facts around this incident”.

A “lack of co-operation from the Danish, German and Swedish authorities … obviously demonstrates non-transparent character of their national investigations with regard to the Nord Stream act of sabotage”, Mr Nebenzya said.

In a written statement to The National, Sweden's Ministry for Foreign Affairs said the government would not comment on an ongoing preliminary investigation.

"The Russian authorities have been informed about developments concerning the incidents, including the investigations, and we have responded to their inquiries," the statement read.

On September 26, 2022, the Nord Stream 1 and 2 — underwater pipelines carrying natural gas from Russia to Europe under the Baltic Sea — exploded, causing large amounts of gas to leak into the ocean.

European states believe the “act of sabotage” against Nord Stream was probably state sponsored because of the sophistication with which the perpetrators planted and detonated the explosives on the Baltic Sea floor without being detected.

Responsibility for the blasts, which occurred in international waters but within the exclusive economic zone of Denmark and Sweden, have been fuelling public speculation for the past six months.

US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh last month said the attack was carried out last September at the direction of President Joe Biden. The US has denied the claim.

Last week, The New York Times reported US intelligence officials believed pro-Ukrainian saboteurs may be responsible for the attacks. Kyiv strongly denied any involvement.

Moscow wants the 15-member UN Security Council to conduct “comprehensive, transparent and impartial international investigation” into the blasts on the pipelines under the auspices of the UN.

The initial draft resolution on the proposed investigation, circulated by Russia and currently being negotiated by the Security Council, noted that the attack on the pipelines “occurred after the repeated threats to the Nord Stream by the leadership of the United States”.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby declined to comment on The New York Times report, noting that investigations into the incident by Denmark, Germany and Sweden are ongoing.

“We need to let these investigations conclude,” Mr Kirby said. “And only then should we be looking at what follow on actions might or may not be appropriate.”

Updated: March 16, 2023, 6:21 PM