Denmark and Sweden are investigating the leaks in the Nord Stream pipelines, but a site inspection has yet to be done and details on exactly what caused the explosions remain sketchy.
One European official said that there is a Danish government assessment underway and it could take up to two weeks for an investigation to properly begin because the pressure in the pipes makes it difficult to approach the site of the leaks. However, another source said the probe could begin as soon as Sunday.
The Danish government is taking the lead on the investigation and has put in place an exclusion area of five nautical miles and a one kilometer no-fly-zone, according to European sources familiar with the matter.
US officials have been far more circumspect than their European counterparts in drawing conclusions about the leaks.
But a senior US official and a US military official both said Russia is still the leading suspect – assuming that the European assessment of deliberate sabotage is borne out – because there are no other plausible suspects with the ability and will to carry out the operation.
It’s hard to imagine any other actor in the region with the capabilities and interest to carry out such an operation,” one Danish military official said.
Russia has requested a UN Security Council meeting on the damaged pipeline this week – something the senior US official said is also suspicious. Typically, the official said, Russia isn’t organized enough to move so quickly, suggesting that the maneuver was pre-planned.
If Russia did deliberately cause the explosions, it would be effectively sabotaging its own pipelines: Russian state company Gazprom is the majority shareholder in Nord Stream 1 and the sole owner of Nord Stream 2.
But officials familiar with the latest intelligence say that Moscow would likely view such a step as worth the price if it helped raise the costs of supporting Ukraine for Europe.
US and Western intelligence officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin is gambling that as electricity costs rise and winter approaches, European publics could turn against the Western strategy of isolating Russia economically.
Sabotaging the pipelines could “show what Russia is capable of,” one US official said.
CNN's Oren Liebermann and Alex Marquardt contributed reporting.