Sweden’s domestic security agency said Thursday that its initial probe into the leaks in the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines has “strengthened the suspicions of serious sabotage.”
A Swedish prosecutor said that evidence had been seized from the area in the Baltic Sea where the leaks took place and that it will now be examined. “Seizures have been made at the crime scene and these will now be investigated,” said prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist.
At this point, there’s little doubt that the incident was the result of an attack, which was affirmed by Sweden’s Security Service. The security agency said the initial inquiry found that “detonations” caused extensive damage to Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2, according to The Associated Press.
While the Swedish authorities are investigating the leaks, the operators of the pipelines that connect Russia to Germany have said Swedish and Danish authorities won’t allow them to inspect the damage until after an investigation or until they acquire permits. The explosions took place in international waters but within the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of Sweden and Denmark.
Germany’s federal police, the BKA, also said this week that the leaks were the result of an attack, likely carried out by a state actor. “Against the background of the high complexity of the execution of the act and corresponding preparation, the action of state actors seems probable,” the BKA said, according to Spiegel.
It’s not clear at this point who was behind the attacks, but the US certainly has the motive, as it has long tried to stop Nord Stream 2. Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the incident as a “tremendous opportunity” to wean Europe off Russian gas, and President Biden had previously threatened to put “an end” to Nord Stream 2.