Traces of explosives found at site of damaged Nord Stream pipelines

Traces of explosives have been found at the site of the damaged Nord Stream pipelines, say Swedish investigators.

The finding suggests the pipelines were damaged by “gross sabotage”, a Swedish prosecutor says.

Swedish and Danish authorities are investigating four holes in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines which link Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea and have become a flashpoint in the Ukraine crisis.

The findings come after a preliminary investigation last month showed that the leaks on the key gas route were caused by powerful explosions.

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At least 50 metres worth of pipeline is believed to be missing from Nord Stream 1 following the damage on 26 September.

Russia has repeatedly denied being involved in the attack on the pipeline and made a series of wild claims that the UK’s Royal Navy was responsible.

“Analysis that has now been carried out shows traces of explosives on several of the objects that were recovered,” the Swedish Prosecution Authority said in a statement.

“The investigation is highly complex and comprehensive. The ongoing probe will determine whether any suspects can be identified,” it added.

Moscow will wait until a full damage assessment is done before deciding on any repairs, if any, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

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It comes as fighting continues in Ukraine, with Russian forces making preparations in case of further major Ukrainian breakthroughs, according to the UK’s Ministry of Defence.

In its intelligence update on Friday, the MoD said Russian units have constructed new trench systems near the border of Crimea, as well between the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The ministry goes on to say that it is “likely” that Russia will attempt to eventually redeploy some of the forces recovered from Kherson to reinforce and expand its offensive operations near the town of Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region.

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