- Sweden says damage to Nord Stream lines was “gross sabotage”.
- Traces of explosives found on location during investigation
- Further investigation will show whether suspects can be identified
STOCKHOLM, Nov. 18 (Reuters) – Investigators have found traces of explosives at the site of the damaged Nord Stream gas pipelines, confirming sabotage has taken place, a Swedish prosecutor said on Friday.
Swedish and Danish authorities are investigating four holes in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines that connect Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea and have become a focal point in the Ukraine crisis as Europe’s gas supplies run out.
Denmark said last month that a preliminary investigation had found that the leaks were caused by powerful explosions.
“Analysis now carried out shows traces of explosives on several of the recovered objects,” the Swedish prosecutor said in a statement, adding that the findings label the incident as “gross sabotage”.
It said the ongoing probe would determine whether it would be possible to identify those responsible.
Cooperation with authorities in Sweden and in other countries went very well, said Chief Prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist.
The prosecutor’s office declined to comment further, including what explosives would have been used to damage the pipelines.
Russia will wait until a full damage assessment is made before deciding on any repairs, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday.
“The mere fact that data is already starting to come in confirming that there is a subversive act or a terrorist act… confirms once again the information that the Russian side has,” Peskov said during his daily telephone conversation with reporters.
“It is very important not to stop, it is very important to find whoever is behind this explosion.”
Nor Gazprom (GAZP.MM)neither Nord Stream 1 and 2 have responded to Reuters’ requests for comment.
Seismologists in Denmark and Sweden previously said they had recorded tremors in the immediate vicinity of the leaks and the signals did not resemble those from earthquakes.
The Danish police declined to comment on the Swedish findings.
The ruptures of the seafloor pipelines on Sept. 26, spewing gas into the ocean that bubbled to the surface over the following week, prompted warnings of danger to the public and fears of environmental damage.
A section of at least 50 meters (164 feet) is missing from Nord Stream 1, Swedish daily Expressen reported Oct. 18 after filming what it said was the first publicly released footage of the damage.
Russia’s defense ministry said last month British naval personnel had blown up the pipelines, a claim London said was false and intended to distract from Russia’s military failure in Ukraine.
Reportage by Anna Ringstrom and Johan Ahlander in Stockholm, Terje Solsvik in Oslo and Nikolaj Skydsgaard in Copenhagen, edited by Elaine Hardcastle
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