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NORD STREAM

Swedish prosecutors to conduct ‘complementary’ Nord Stream probe

Swedish prosecutors said on Friday that they would conduct a new complementary crime scene investigation of the Nord Stream leaks, after the navy and the pipeline owner also began surveys this week.

Swedish prosecutors to conduct 'complementary' Nord Stream probe
Pipes at the industrial plant of the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline in Lubmin, northeastern Germany, in August 2022. Sweden will no longer take part in a joint investigations of the Nord Stream pipeline links, according to reports in Germany on Friday. Photo: Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

“I have decided to together with the Security Service (Sapo) conduct a number of complementary inspections of the crime scene,” public prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist said in a statement (see here and here).

The Swedish armed forces have decided to assist the investigation following a request, Ljungqvist added, without giving any details as to what they were looking for.

Four leaks emerged on the two Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea off the Danish island of Bornholm at the end of September with seismic institutes reporting they had recorded two underwater explosions prior to the leaks appearing.

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

In early October, the Swedish prosecution authority announced that they had collected “pieces of evidence” during an underwater inspection of the leaks in the Swedish economic zone, which had backed up suspicions of sabotage.

The new inspection comes as Sweden’s navy and the owner of the pipeline Nord Stream AG both announced earlier this week that they were conducting their own inspections of the burst pipelines.

Jimmie Adamsson, head of communications for the Swedish navy, confirmed they were at the scene with a ship specialised in diving operations and that they were supporting the prosecution’s new inspection.

But he stressed that it was not linked to the survey they had initiated on their own this week.

“The first investigation has not sparked the second, but they are two separate things,” Adamsson told AFP.

Nord Stream AG, which is majority-owned by Russia’s Gazprom, said Thursday that a “specially equipped vessel” had arrived at the location of “the pipeline damage in the exclusive economic zone of Sweden”.

The pipelines, which connect Russia to Germany, have been at the centre of geopolitical tensions as Russia cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected retaliation to Western sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Although they were not in operation when the leaks occurred, they both still contained gas which spewed up through the water and into the atmosphere.

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NORD STREAM

Swedish prosecutor confirms Nord Stream pipeline sabotage

Swedish officials confirmed Friday that the September blasts which destroyed sections of the Nord Stream pipelines carrying gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea were acts of sabotage.

Swedish prosecutor confirms Nord Stream pipeline sabotage

“The analyses conducted found traces of explosives on several foreign objects” found at the sites of the blasts, prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist, who is leading the preliminary investigation, said in a statement.

Ljungqvist added that technical analyses were continuing in order to “draw more reliable conclusions regarding the incident.”

Sweden’s Prosecution Authority said that the “continued investigation will show if anyone can be formally suspected of a crime.”

The four underwater explosions at the Nord Stream gas pipelines carrying natural gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea in September this year were caused by a force corresponding to hundreds of kilograms of explosives, a Danish-Swedish report has previously concluded.

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines have been at the centre of geopolitical tensions as Russia cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected retaliation against Western sanctions following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Four large gas leaks were discovered on Nord Stream’s two pipelines off the Danish island of Bornholm at the end of September, with seismic institutes recording two underwater explosions just prior.

Investigators had already said preliminary inspections had reinforced suspicions of sabotage.

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

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

Ljungqvist added technical analyses were continuing in order to “draw more reliable conclusions regarding the incident”.

Sweden’s prosecution authority said the “continued investigation will show if anyone can be formally suspected of a crime”.

The Swedish Security Service (SÄPO) — which is conducting the investigation under the prosecutors’ leadership — confirmed the findings in a separate statement but both authorities declined to comment further.

The closely watched investigation has also been supported by Sweden’s coast guard, the Swedish armed forces and the police.

Trading blame

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

At the end of October, Nord Stream sent a Russian-flagged civilian vessel to inspect the damage in the Swedish zone.

The same week the prosecution authority announced it was conducting a second probe of the damage to complement the first done in early October.

In early November, the operator said roughly 250 metres (820 feet) of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline had been destroyed and that craters with a depth of three to five metres had been found on the seabed.

Although the pipelines were not in operation when the leaks occurred, they both still contained gas which spewed up through the water and into the atmosphere.

Moscow has accused Western countries of being behind the explosions of the pipelines, but has not provided any firm proof.

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

The accusation was rejected as “distractions which are part of the Russian playbook” by a spokesman for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Ukraine and some Western countries have meanwhile pointed the finger at Russia.

In mid-October, Russia said it was ready to resume deliveries of gas through the parts of the pipeline not affected by the leaks, with President Vladimir Putin saying “the ball was in the EU’s court”.

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