Swedish authorities seized “foreign items” and explosive materials at the site of the Nord Stream pipeline leaks, confirming many world leaders’ suspicions that an act of sabotage likely caused the September blasts, prosecutors said Friday.
Swedish and Danish authorities are investigating the cause behind four leaks in the two major pipelines transporting natural gas from Russia to Europe, neutralizing infrastructure that has become a focal point of the energy crisis following Russia’s war in Ukraine, according to Reuters.
Preliminary data suggested that explosions caused the holes in the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines, a hypothesis confirmed by results of the Swedish Security Service’s ongoing“crime scene” analysis.
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“This investigation shows that the pipelines have been subject to gross sabotage,” the Swedish prosecution authority said.
The authorities discovered “extensive damage” to the pipelines as a result of “detonations,” adding that the damage had been thoroughly documented and that investigators would continue analyzing the evidence.
In addition, investigators collected undisclosed “foreign items” at the site of the crime, many of which bore traces of explosive materials, the security service said.
Initial data from Sweden’s national seismology research center apparently showed powerful undersea seismic events near the areas where the pipelines traversed, according to Danish Broadcasting.
Pressure on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines dropped suddenly on Sept. 26, and the Swedish Maritime Administration later detected multiple leaks in Swedish and Danish waters off the Baltic sea. The cause of the leaks remains unclear, but the U.S. and European countries suspect deliberate action following accusations Russia has weaponized the energy infrastructure to punish Europe for supporting Ukraine.
“It is now the clear assessment by authorities that these are deliberate actions. It was not an accident,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said at a press briefing shortly after the leaks were discovered.
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The Kremlin has denied responsibility for the explosions and will wait until a full damage assessment is completed before deciding on any repairs, spokesperson Dmitri Peskov said Friday, according to Reuters.
The investigation into the leaks has progressed slowly, as prosecutors and Nord Stream AG, the pipeline operator, have had to seek special permits to access waters controlled by Swedish, Danish and Norwegian authorities, according to the operator.
Satellite data monitoring firm SpaceKnow also detected two “dark ships” with their identity and location beacons turned off, a violation of international law, transiting waters near the leak sites days before they were detected, Wired reported. SpaceKnow told the outlet it had notified NATO leaders.