Danish officials have confirmed that there has been “extensive damage” to the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea off Denmark and that “powerful explosions” were the cause of the damage last month.
The pipelines of Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2, the largest routes for Russian gas to Europe, were ruptured in the Baltic Sea in late September. The four leaks occurred in international waters but within the exclusive economic zones of Denmark and Sweden.
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In a statement on Tuesday, Copenhagen Police said they had carried out a number of preliminary investigations of what they called “the crime scenes,” with assistance from Denmark’s Armed Forces and in collaboration with, among others, the Danish security and intelligence agency.
The agency and police have decided to set up a joint investigation group which will handle further investigation of the incidents, the police said, adding it was “not possible to say when the investigation can be expected to be completed”.
Earlier this month, the Swedish domestic security agency said its preliminary investigation of two further leaks closer to its coast “has strengthened the suspicions of serious sabotage” and a prosecutor said evidence at the site has been seized.
Swedish newspaper Expressen published on Tuesday what it claims is a video of the damaged pipelines off Sweden and said that at least 50 metres (165 feet) of the metal pipe appears to be missing.
Moreover, seismologists in Denmark previously said they had registered tremors in the vicinity of the leaks measuring as much as 2.3 on the Richter scale and that the signals did not resemble those from earthquakes.
The damaged pipelines discharged huge amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the air for several days.
The damage to the pipelines has become a major flashpoint in the crisis over Ukraine which is in its eighth month. Moscow said the United States was a beneficiary of the accidents, while Washington has denied any involvement.
Meanwhile, Ukraine said the leaks were likely the result of a “terrorist attack” carried out by Moscow.