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Nord Stream pipeline explosions caused by sabotage, says Sweden

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 18/11/2022 James Crisp
Gas leaking from the Nord Stream 1 pipeline after the explosions in September - Swedish Coast Guard/AFP © Swedish Coast Guard/AFP Gas leaking from the Nord Stream 1 pipeline after the explosions in September - Swedish Coast Guard/AFP

The undersea explosions on the Nord Stream pipelines were caused by sabotage, Swedish prosecutors confirmed on Friday.

“Foreign objects” with traces of explosives on them were found on the two pipes, which lie under the Baltic Sea.

Moscow is suspected of being responsible for the blasts on Nord Stream 1 and 2, which it denies. 

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has accused both the UK and US of orchestrating the explosions.

“The analyses conducted found traces of explosives on several foreign objects,” said Mats Ljungqvist, the prosecutor who is leading the investigation.

“The preliminary investigation is very complex and comprehensive. The continued preliminary investigation must show whether anyone can be served with suspicion of a crime.” 

The four explosions, equivalent to 100kg of dynamite, caused dangerous gas leaks in September, which meant a five-mile shipping exclusion zone had to be imposed.

The two Nord Stream pipelines were built to carry gas from Russia to Germany. However, since the West imposed sanctions on Moscow for the war in Ukraine, Putin has choked off supplies to Europe.

European countries have moved to cut their dependence on Russian gas since the war in Ukraine.

The sabotage occurred on the same day as the inauguration of a new Baltic Sea pipeline from Norway to Poland, designed as an alternative to Russian supplies and close to the Nord Stream system.

It led to Norway and other European countries stepping up security around their critical energy infrastructure.

Russian navy support ships, a warship and submarines were spotted close to the Nord Stream pipelines in the weeks and months before the explosions.

Swedish, Danish and German authorities are investigating what the Swedes called the “gross sabotage” on Friday. The blasts occurred in Swedish and Danish territorial waters.

Sweden and Denmark have already made a joint report to the United Nations Security Council.

“The magnitude of the explosions was measured at 2.3 and 2.1 on the Richter Scale respectively, probably corresponding to an explosive load of several hundred kilos,” they said.

Neither pipeline was pumping gas to Europe at the time of explosions, but both contained gas under pressure.

Flows from Nord Stream 1 to Germany were halted in August, ostensibly for maintenance, and have not restarted – something Moscow blames on faulty equipment and sanctions.

The new Nord Stream 2 pipeline was set to dramatically increase Germany’s dependence on Russian gas. The €9.5 billion (£8.27 billion) project was finished and waiting for final approval from Berlin, which was denied when Putin launched his illegal invasion of Ukraine in February.

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