Photo: Bubbles on the water surface above the leaks. Source: Danish Defense

Sweden: Nord Stream incident caused by ‘gross sabotage’

An investigation has shown that explosions that damaged the Nord Stream gas pipelines in late September were caused by “gross sabotage”, Swedish authorities announced.

Swedish prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist, who is leading the ongoing preliminary investigation at the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, said in a statement today, 18 November, that the incident is a “gross sabotage”.

“During the crime scene investigations that were carried out on-site in the Baltic Sea, extensive seizures were made and the area has been carefully documented. Analyzes that have now been carried out show traces of explosives on several of the foreign objects that were found. The advanced analysis work continues to be able to draw safer conclusions about the incident,” Ljungqvist stated.

“The cooperation with authorities in Sweden and in other countries works excellently. For the continued work with the preliminary investigation and for the various ongoing collaborations, it is important that we can work in peace and quiet.”

In a separate announcement, the Swedish Security Service confirmed that the investigation shows that the pipelines were subject to sabotage.

According to the Swedes, several seizures have been made, including foreign items, and explosive residue was identified on a number of the seized and analyzed foreign items.

They note that the investigation is extensive and complex and is expected to eventually show whether anyone can be suspected of, and later prosecuted for the incident.

“The Nord Stream incidents in the Baltic Sea are a very serious matter. Our Service is keeping a close eye on the development and taking the measures needed to fulfil its duty to protect Sweden and its security,” the Swedish Security Service said.

The Swedish Security Service said it had carried out a crime scene investigation of the damage to Nord Stream 1 and 2 in early October, which strengthened the suspicions of gross sabotage. The prosecutor then decided on additional investigations of the gas pipeline.

The Swedish Coast Guard, the Swedish Armed Forces and the Swedish police Authority, among others, are assisting in the investigation.

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The Nord Stream twin pipeline system runs from Vyborg, Russia, to Lubmin near Greifswald, Germany. The route crosses the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany, as well as the territorial waters of Russia, Denmark, and Germany.

Four gas leaks were found on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in September, two in Sweden’s EEZ and two in the Danish territory.

European authorities stated they are suspecting that the incident could be the result of “deliberate actions” after the Norwegian and Swedish seismic institutes had confirmed that underwater blasts preceded the leaks.

Gas leaks stopped at the beginning of October after stable pressure was achieved, followed by the kick-off of the damage assessment.

Neither of the two pipelines were operational at the time. Russia shut Nord Stream 1 at the end of August and German chancellor Olaf Scholz halted the process of certifying Nord Stream 2 earlier this year due to the crisis in Ukraine.