Swedish police say Nord Stream investigation found evidence of detonations
An investigation into the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines, which run from Russia to Europe, reinforced suspicions of a "serious sabotage" involving detonations, the Swedish Security Service said on Thursday.
Swedish and Danish authorities have been investigating four leaks from gas pipelines in the exclusive economic zones of Sweden and Denmark in the Baltic Sea since they were first detected early last week.
Europe, facing an energy crisis following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, is investigating the cause of the damage, while Moscow tries to blame the West, suggesting that the United States came out on top.
Washington denies any involvement, while the confrontation continues between Russia and European countries over the supply of gas that has stopped flowing or has been suspended as a result of the conflict in Ukraine.
Nord Stream operators said this week that they were unable to inspect the damaged sections due to restrictions imposed by the Danish and Swedish authorities, who had cordoned off the area.
“After completing the investigation on the scene, the Swedish Security Service can conclude that detonations occurred near Nord Stream 1 and 2, within the Swedish economic zone,” the Swedish Security Service said in a statement.
The security service said there was major damage to gas pipelines and that some materials were recovered from the site that will now be analyzed. The evidence "has reinforced suspicions of serious sabotage," they said.
Russia said Thursday that it was informed through diplomatic channels that could not join the investigation.
“At the moment, there are no plans to ask the Russian side to join the investigations”Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, adding that Moscow responded that it is not possible to conduct an objective investigation without its participation.
Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said separately Thursday that Moscow will insist on a “thorough and open investigation” including Russian officials and Gazprom.
“Not allowing the owner (of the pipelines) to witness the investigation it means there is something to hide,” he said.
On the other hand, European countries tried to reassure consumers that they will have energy as the cold months approach and the chief executive of energy group Eni said on Thursday that Italy will have its gas stores almost full ahead of winter.
However, the supply situation is tense, and Italy must be attentive to the uncertainties that may arise in the event of a colder winter or unexpected problems in energy infrastructures, Claudio Descalzi maintained.
Last year, Italy got 40% of its gas imports from Moscow and Eni was the country's largest importer of Russian gas.
The director of the German Federal Network Agency, which would be in charge of gas rationing in the event of a supply emergency, he repeated his warning from a week ago that consumption was too high.
“We will have a hard time avoiding a gas emergency this winter if there is no saving of at least 20% in households, companies and industry”, said Klaus Mueller of the Bundesnetzagentur. "The situation can become very serious if we don't significantly reduce our gas consumption," he told Reuters.
The Swedish police investigation into the Nord Stream reinforces the suspicion of serious sabotage.
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