Sabotage suspected after discovery of Nord Stream gas pipeline leaks
An aerial photo provided by the Danish Defense Command shows the Nord Stream 2 gas leak near Bornholm. Following the damage to the Nord Stream gas pipelines under the Baltic Sea, authorities in Germany and Denmark continue to search for the cause. Danish Defence Command/dpa

The governments of Denmark and Sweden said they suspected acts of sabotage after three leaks were discovered on the Nord Stream pipelines that carry gas from Russia to Europe via the Baltic Sea.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said it was not yet known who was behind the incidents that affected the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines that run from Russia to Germany but that they were not accidents.

The incidents occurred in the exclusive economic zones of Denmark and Sweden off the Danish island of Bornholm. Frederiksen said she did not view it as an attack on Denmark, a member of NATO.

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said much was still unclear about what exactly took place underwater but that it was likely intentional. "So it is probably a question of sabotage," she said.

There was close cooperation with Germany and the US, among others, Andersson said. She said she had telephoned Frederiksen, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. EU officials were also taking part in discussions.

Stoltenberg said earlier he was following news of the damage to the energy infrastructure "with great concern."

"This is something that is extremely important to get all the facts on the table," he said, while also mentioning that Russia has been "using energy as a tool in an armed conflict."

A total of three leaks have been discovered on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines.

The Danish said measuring stations indicated there had been an explosion first at 2:03 am (0003 GMT) Monday at Nord Stream 2 south-east of Bornholm and another at 7:03 pm on Monday at Nord Stream 1 north-east of the island.

German security sources told dpa the cause of the incidents had not been clarified, but there were indications of sabotage. Only a state actor could mount such an intervention due to its technical complexity, the sources said.

The Kremlin also reacted to the discovery of the leaks by saying that an act of sabotage could not be ruled out.

"Obviously, there is a destruction of the pipeline. As to what the reason is, there is no option that can be ruled out until the results of the investigation emerge," spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to the Interfax news agency. "This is an absolutely unprecedented situation that needs to be resolved quickly."

On Monday night, severe pressure drops were detected in both pipelines. The average pressure of 105 bar dropped to 7 bar on the German side.

Neither of the pipelines is in operation, so the incidents have no implications for the gas supply in Europe. But the potential for energy infrastructure to become targets of attack unsettled European capitals amid sky-high tensions between the West and Russia.

Construction on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was completed, but it was not put into operation due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February.

More recently, Russia halted all deliveries through Nord Stream 1, citing maintenance work that could not be completed due to Western sanctions on the country. Europe does not buy that explanation and says the cut off was retaliation for sanctions over the war in Ukraine.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki was definitive in his statements about the incident.

"We don't know today the details of what happened, but we clearly see that there was an act of sabotage," Morawiecki said.

This act of sabotage was "probably the next stage of escalation we are dealing with in Ukraine," he said, giving the impression Warsaw saw Russia has behind the pipeline blasts.

The environmental organization Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) said the leaks, the size of which are unclear, posed a danger to marine life and ships.

There is a "danger of suffocation for the animals ... particularly animals that cannot flee quickly," said Nadja Ziebarth, head of BUND's marine protection office. "At the water surface, there is an increased danger of explosion, so above all a danger for all ships."

BUND also sees a potential climate hazard emanating from escaping methane. While pure methane that dissolves in the sea is non-toxic, the composition of the gas in the Nord Stream pipelines is not known.

"Since it is unclear exactly which mixture is transported via Nord Stream, unknown damage could be caused locally to the marine ecosystem by other gases," Ziebarth said.

Unused pipes for the Nord Stream 2 Baltic gas pipeline are stored on the site of the Port of Mukran. After a pressure drop was detected in a short time for the two Baltic Sea pipelines Nord Stream 1 and 2, three leaks have now been identified. Stefan Sauer/dpa
Unused pipes for the Nord Stream 2 Baltic gas pipeline are stored on the site of the Port of Mukran. After a pressure drop was detected in a short time for the two Baltic Sea pipelines Nord Stream 1 and 2, three leaks have now been identified. Stefan Sauer/dpa
A general view of the pipe systems and shut-off devices at the gas receiving station of the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline. An unexplained pressure drop has occurred in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that runs from Russia to Germany, a spokesman said on Monday. Stefan Sauer/dpa