Denmark invites Russian energy giant to help recover mystery object found near Nord Stream pipeline hit by "sabotage"
Copenhagen — Denmark has invited the Russian-controlled operator of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to help recover a mystery object that was spotted near the pipeline, six months after sections were sabotaged. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who revealed the discovery of the object earlier this month, said experts believe that it could be a signal antenna to activate an explosive in that part of the pipeline.
German, Swedish and Danish authorities are investigating the undersea explosions that sparked four leaks on the two Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea in September, seven months after Russia invaded Ukraine.
The Danish energy agency released a photo late Thursday of the cylindrical object standing near the Nord Stream 2 pipeline at the bottom of the sea.
The agency said it is "possible" that the object is a maritime smoke buoy, 16 inches tall and four inches wide, and that it "does not pose an immediate safety risk."
"With a view to further clarifying the nature of the object, Danish authorities have decided to salvage the object with assistance from the Danish Defense," it said in a statement.
The agency added that it was still waiting for a response from the pipeline's owner before starting the recovery operation.
Russian energy giant Gazprom holds a majority stake in the twin pipelines, with the rest owned by German, Dutch and French companies.
In November last year, prosecutor leading Sweden's preliminary investigation said traces of explosives had been found at site where the two natural gas pipelines were damaged by what he called an act of "gross sabotage."
"Analysis carried out shows traces of explosives on several of the foreign objects that were found" at the site, prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist said in a statement at the time. The Swedish prosecution authority said the investigation was "very complex and comprehensive," and that further scrutiny would determine whether anyone could be charged "with suspicion of crime."
German prosecutors said earlier this month that, in January, investigators searched a ship suspected of having transported explosives used in the blasts.
Confirmation of the searches came after the New York Times reported that U.S. officials had seen new intelligence indicating that a "pro-Ukrainian group" was responsible for the sabotage. The Ukrainian government denied involvement in the action, while the Kremlin rejected the Times report as a "diversion."
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