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Swedish Nord Stream Probe Strengthens Sabotage Suspicions

Sweden's security police and prosecutor's office say a preliminary investigation into leaks from two Russian gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea has strengthened suspicions of sabotage as the cause.

The Swedish Security Police said on October 6 that the probe confirmed that “detonations" caused “extensive damage” to the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines last week.

The service didn't give details about its investigation, but a separate statement from the Swedish prosecutor who led the preliminary investigation said “seizures have been made at the crime scene and these will now be investigated.”

The prosecutor, Mats Ljungqvist, did not identify the seized evidence, but he said he had given “directives to temporarily block [the area] and carry out a crime scene investigation."

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.

The EU and NATO also called the explosions “sabotage,” with some EU officials accusing Russia of being behind the attack. The Kremlin has denied any involvement and pointed the finger at the United States, an accusation that Washington immediately dismissed.

Leaks in four places along the pipelines in the Swedish and Danish exclusive economic zones in the Baltic Sea lasted about a week, discharging huge amounts of methane into the air.

The pipelines -- built to carry Russian natural gas supplied by Kremlin-controlled natural gas giant Gazprom to Germany -- were filled with Russian gas at the time of the explosions, but were not operational due to the consequences of the war in Ukraine and tensions with Russia.

Russia earlier this year slashed exports through Nord Stream 1, claiming Western sanctions on equipment and services impaired its ability to maintain the pipeline. Nord Stream 2, the newer pipeline, was never put into operation.

The Nord Stream operators, based in Switzerland, said this week that they were unable to inspect the damaged sections because of restrictions imposed by Danish and Swedish authorities who had cordoned off the area.

The statement from Sweden's Prosecution Authority said the area where gas spewed out was no longer cordoned off.

Related: The LME Is Carefully Considering A Potential Ban On Russian Metals

Russia said on October 6 that it had been informed through diplomatic channels that it was not able to join the investigation.

"As of now, there are no plans to ask the Russian side to join investigations," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, adding that Moscow replied it was not possible to conduct an objective investigation without its participation.

Sweden's justice minister said it was not possible to let others take part in a Swedish criminal investigation.

Denmark's Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod told Reuters on October 6 that his ministry had not told Russia to stay out of the investigation, but that a police-led taskforce comprising members from Denmark, Sweden, and Germany was in charge of the investigation.

By RFE/RL

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