On October 20, Swedish investigators looking into the incident that destroyed the Nord Stream gas pipelines revealed they had discovered an explosive-packed drone on the seafloor close to the pipelines.
The drone had to be taken down and disarmed, thus the Swedish armed forces were called.
Drone with explosives found on the seafloor
According to Jesper Stolpe, a spokesman for the Swedish Armed Forces, “at this time, we do not believe it to be threatening to merchant vessels or the pipeline.” According to Stolpe, the drone was rendered useless when the cable used to operate it and detonate the explosion was disconnected.
According to Stolpe, numerous nations utilize unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) of a similar design, thus the country identity of the drone has not yet been confirmed.
Russian suspected drone flights
Last week, Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store blamed “foreign intelligence” services for being responsible for a recent spate of “unacceptable” drone flights in the country, indirectly accusing Russia. The son of a close personal friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin was arrested earlier by Norwegian police on suspicion of illegally using a drone in the geopolitically significant Arctic region’s Svalbard island.
Nord Stream pipeline disaster was likely caused by a sabotage
After gas started leaking into the sea on the evening of September 26 and suspicions of sabotage began to grow, Swedish seismologists were the first to notice multiple explosions close to the pipelines.
These worries are confirmed by the discovery of the still-unidentified drone. Russia has been left out of a joint probe Sweden has been undertaking with Poland and Germany despite demands to take part. This Monday, Sweden declared that it had classified the investigation’s findings for “national security” reasons.
The major suspects, all of whom have solid reasons to destroy the pipelines, are Russians and the US. However, the cause of the explosions is yet unknown. Even though the pipelines officially belong to Germany, Russia has accused the US and denied any role in blowing up its multi-billion-dollar pipelines.
The deployment of a UUV significantly widens the pool of possibilities. Previously, it was claimed that only countries with submarines could have successfully attacked because the pipelines are so deep in the ocean.
According to Pipeline Journal, the drone was discovered close to one of the two strands of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline during a regular survey operation as part of the pipeline’s yearly integrity review.
The explosions broke three of the four strands, but Nord Stream 2’s was left intact.
About 120 kilometers from the island of Gotland, in the Swedish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), were the pipeline portions that were destroyed. Tonnes of methane were released into the atmosphere due to the gas leak, which some have dubbed the biggest emissions catastrophe ever.
Fearing more explosions, Sweden immediately declared a 5-km shipping no-go zone around the leakage.