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NORD STREAM

Sweden and Denmark say Nord Stream blasts equal to ‘several hundred kilos of TNT’

The four underwater explosions at the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea were caused by a force corresponding to hundreds of kilograms of explosives, a Danish-Swedish report said Friday, as Russian president Vladimir Putin accused the West of being behind the blasts.

Nord stream leak site
One of the Nord Stream leak sites photographed by the Swedish coast guard. Photo: Swedish Coast Guard

“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,” the two countries said in a joint report to the UN Security Council.

Following a request from Russia, the Security Council is due to hold an emergency meeting on the leaks later on Friday.

“All available information indicates that those explosions are the result of a deliberate act,” the countries said.

The source of the explosions has remained a mystery, however, with both Washington and Moscow denying responsibility.

The Scandinavian countries also said that “the possible impact on maritime life in the Baltic Sea is of concern, and the climate effect would likely be very substantial”.

READ ALSO: Swedish coastguard says one of the Nord Stream leaks ‘diminished’

All the leaks, which were discovered on Monday, are in the Baltic Sea off the Danish island of Bornholm.

Two of the leaks are located in the Swedish exclusive economic zone, and the two others in the Danish one.

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which connect Russia to Germany, 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.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday accused the West of organising the blasts.

“Sanctions are not enough for the West, they have switched to sabotage. Unbelievable, but it is a fact!” Putin said during a televised speech at a Kremlin ceremony to annex four Moscow-occupied regions of Ukraine.

“By organising explosions on the Nord Stream international gas pipelines that run along the bottom of the Baltic Sea they actually started destroying European energy infrastructure,” Putin said.

“It is clear to everyone who benefits from this,” Putin added, without providing further details.

Russia said on Wednesday that Washington should answer if it was behind the leaks — an assertion rejected by the United States as “ridiculous”.

NATO has declared the damage “the result of deliberate, reckless and irresponsible acts of sabotage” and said it supports investigations to determine the origin of the damage.

READ ALSO:

While the pipelines are not currently in operation, they both still contained gas.

On Thursday, the pipelines operator said it had so far been unable to assess the damage but said it would do so “as soon as it receives necessary official permits”.

It said access could be allowed “only after the pressure in the gas pipeline has stabilised and the gas leakage has stopped”.

Danish authorities have said the leaks will continue until the gas in the pipelines is exhausted, which is expected to occur on Sunday.

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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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