Sweden says Nord Stream pipeline sabotaged, finds explosive residue


BRUSSELS – A mysterious explosion in September that rendered the main natural gas pipeline from Russia to Europe inoperable was the result of “massive sabotage”, Swedish authorities confirmed on Friday, noting that it was found in the ongoing investigation.

Prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist and the Swedish Security Service reported that the examination of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in the Baltic Sea recorded “extensive damage” and revealed several “foreign objects” – some with “explosive parts”.

But the revelations did not answer the central question of the months-long mystery: Who is responsible? And how did they go about it?

European leaders blame Russian ‘sabotage’ after Nord Stream explosion

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“Advanced analytical work is still in progress – the aim is to draw clearer conclusions about what happened in Nord Stream,” the Security Service said in a statement. “The investigation is extensive and complex and at the end of the day it will show whether there are people who can be suspected, and prosecuted for that later.”

Multiple investigations are underway, with Danish and German authorities also gathering evidence.

European authorities began using the word “sabotage” within hours of the apparently coordinated blasts in late September.

“These are deliberate actions, not by accident,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told reporters on September 27.

European leaders identified Russia as the only player with the technical ability and motivation to destroy the Nord Stream pipeline with an underwater explosion.

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The damage had no immediate impact on Europe’s energy supply. Russia has already cut off gas supplies as relations have soured during the war in Ukraine. And countries that once depended on Russian gas have scrambled to stockpile and secure alternative energy suppliers.

But European leaders suggested the explosion was meant as a threat, sending a message that their critical infrastructure could be vulnerable if they continued their support for Ukraine. Since then, they have strengthened the security of their basic infrastructure and strengthened their naval operations.

Russia denied responsibility and questioned the logic of European accounting.

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The Nord Stream spill may be the largest methane leak ever but not a disaster

Russian energy giant Gazprom halted the flow of gas through Nord Stream 1 earlier this year, citing technical problems, while European leaders accused Moscow of “blackmail”. The new Nord Stream 2 pipeline has not yet been approved for use; Germany blocked the project during the war in Ukraine.

The explosion hit both pipelines – and the resulting leak released the largest ever amount of methane gas into the atmosphere. But energy and climate experts didn’t expect it to have such a big impact on climate change.

Francis reports from London.


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