The Swedish prosecutor confirms sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline

The Swedish prosecutor confirms sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline


The blasts that destroyed parts of the Nord Stream pipelines that carried natural gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea in September were acts of sabotage, Swedish officials confirmed on Friday.

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines were at the center of geopolitical tensions as Russia cut off gas supplies to Europe in alleged retaliation against Western sanctions following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Four large gas leaks were discovered in Nord Stream’s two pipelines off the Danish island of Bornholm in late September, with two underwater explosions recorded shortly beforehand by seismic institutes.

The investigators had already said that preliminary investigations had increased the suspicion of sabotage.

Russia and Western countries, particularly the United States, have exchanged bitter barbs over who is responsible for the blasts.

“The analyzes carried out have found traces of explosives on several foreign objects” at the sites of the blasts, prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist, who is leading the investigation, said in a statement on Friday.

Ljungqvist added that technical analysis would continue to “draw more reliable conclusions regarding the incident”.

Swedish prosecutors said the “continued investigation will show whether anyone can be formally suspected of a crime”.

The Swedish Security Service (SAPO) – which is conducting the investigation under the direction of the public prosecutor’s office – confirmed the findings in a separate statement, but both authorities declined to comment further.

The closely watched investigation was also supported by the Swedish Coast Guard, the Swedish Armed Forces and the police.

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While the leaks were in international waters, two of them were in the Danish exclusive economic zone and two in Sweden.

In late October, Nord Stream dispatched a Russian-flagged civilian vessel to inspect damage in the Swedish zone.

That same week, prosecutors said they would conduct a second investigation into the damage to supplement the first in early October.

In early November, the operator announced that around 250 meters (820 feet) of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline had been destroyed and craters three to five meters deep had been found on the seabed.

Although the pipelines were not operating when the leaks occurred, both still contained gas that was leaking through the water into the atmosphere.

Moscow has accused Western countries of being behind the pipeline explosions, but has not provided any hard evidence.

In early November, the Kremlin accused Britain of “directing and coordinating” the blasts.

The accusation was dismissed by a spokesman for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as “distractions that are part of Russia’s playbook”.

Meanwhile, Ukraine and some Western countries have pointed the finger at Russia.

In mid-October, Russia said it was ready to resume gas supplies through the unaffected parts of the pipeline, with President Vladimir Putin saying “the ball is in the EU”.

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