By Tom Ozimek
Investigators probing the Nord Stream pipeline blasts have found traces of explosive material at the site, the Swedish Security Service said Friday, describing the incident as an act of “serious sabotage.”
Authorities from Denmark and Sweden are investigating damage to the two Nord Stream pipelines that link Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea after powerful explosions in late September led to four ruptures.
Crime scene investigators have found “foreign objects” at the blast sites and, after analyzing them, found traces of explosives, the Swedish Security Service said in a Nov. 18 statement.
“The investigation shows that it is a case of serious sabotage,” the agency concluded.
More advanced analyses are being carried out on the foreign objects to draw more conclusions about the incident, the security service said, calling the investigation “extensive and complex.”
“What happened in the Baltic Sea is very serious,” it added.
The Swedish Prosecutor’s Office issued a similar statement confirming that the blasts were an act of sabotage.
“The ongoing probe will determine whether any suspects can be identified,” the agency said.
The office declined to make further comment.
Prior Suspicions of Sabotage
The development follows earlier confirmation by the Swedish Security Service that seizures of evidence at the blast sites had been made and would be analyzed.
The governments of Denmark and Sweden previously said they suspected that several hundred pounds of explosives were involved in carrying out a deliberate act of sabotage.
While sabotage has long been suspected as the cause of the ruptures, speculation continues to swirl around who could be behind the blasts.
The United States and its European allies have denied involvement while suggesting Russia might be involved.
The Kremlin has called such allegations “predictably stupid” as the pipelines are Russian-owned and the natural gas inside them comes from Russia.
Russia has long blamed the West for the blasts and in late October accused the British navy of blowing up the pipelines.
London has dismissed Moscow’s accusations as false and designed to distract from Russian military setbacks in Ukraine.
The ruptures occurred in the midst of an energy standoff between Russia and the European Union amid the war in Ukraine, with the West accusing Moscow of weaponizing energy to gain leverage in the conflict.
The Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines have a joint annual capacity of 110 billion cubic meters, which is more than half of Russia’s normal natural gas export volumes.
The European Union, which in recent years has become highly dependent on Russian energy flows, is facing an energy price crunch as it struggles to replace those supplies from other sources.