Pipeline Leaks Appear to Be Result of Deliberate Act

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Wednesday that there was every reason to believe that the leaks from two Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea “are the result of a deliberate act”.

“We will support any investigation aimed at gaining full clarity on what happened and why, and we will take further steps to increase our energy security resilience,” Borrell said in a statement. “Any deliberate disruption of Europe’s energy infrastructure is completely unacceptable and will be met with a strong and united response.”

The US State Department said Tuesday evening that Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the situation with Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod and that the United States “remains united with our allies and partners in our commitment to promote European energy security. “.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan tweeted that the US supports efforts to investigate the apparent sabotage.

Danish Defense Minister Morten Bodskov will discuss the matter with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels on Wednesday.

“I’m not going to speculate on the cause” of the leaks, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre answered questions about the incident on Tuesday, adding that she had nothing to report on whether the United States was solicited. by European officials. to help determine the cause of the breakages.

“An act of sabotage”

The 1,222-kilometer-long Nord Stream 1 pipeline was until recently a major source of gas for Germany. The 1,234-kilometer Nord Stream 2 has not yet entered commercial service.

“We have drawn up a report and the crime classification is serious sabotage,” Swedish National Police said Tuesday, announcing a preliminary investigation into a possible sabotage of Nord Stream 1.

“There are three leaks, so it’s hard to imagine it could be accidental,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said Tuesday.

“We clearly see that this is an act of sabotage, an act that probably means a new phase of escalation of the situation in Ukraine,” confirmed Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

Frederkisen and Morawiecki spoke in Gloeniow, Poland, at the opening ceremony of the Baltic Pipe, which is part of a Polish plan to reduce its energy dependence on Russia. The line will connect Poland to Norwegian gas fields via Denmark.

“No option can be ruled out at this time,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said of the possibility of sabotage, adding that the leaks are worrying.

Russia closed Nord Stream 1 earlier this month, reportedly for maintenance work.

The majority owner of the grid operator, Nord Stream AG, is Gazprom, a Russian state-owned energy company.

“The simultaneous destruction of three offshore pipeline strings of the Nord Stream system on the same day is unprecedented,” NordStream AG said in a statement. “It is not yet possible to estimate the timing for the restoration of the gas transport infrastructure”.

“The biggest loss is the spread of bubbles that are a good kilometer in diameter. The smallest creates a circle about 200 meters in diameter, according to a statement by the Danish military, which included photographs of the casualties off the coast. the island of Bornholm.

Powerful explosions recorded on Monday

European scientists say seismographs recorded powerful explosions in the Baltic Sea on Monday, the same day the two pipelines lost pressure.

“There was a peak and then a constant noise,” said Josef Zens, spokesman for the German geological research center GFZ. “We can’t say if gas might flow.”

“Once it is a coincidence. Twice is a coincidence. The third time is the action of the enemy, “wrote Javier Blas, Bloomberg Opinion columnist, citing the late British author Ian Fleming.

“The leaks are rather a message: Russia is opening a new front in its energy war against Europe. First, you have militarized the gas supply, stopping shipments, including through the Nord Stream pipeline. Now it could attack the energy infrastructure it once used to ship its energy, “said Blas, author of The World for Sale: Money, Power and the Traders Who Barter the Earth’s Resources.

Among the many social media speculations about who may have sabotaged Nord Stream, there is no credible evidence of a culprit or probable motive. Analysts and enthusiasts on Twitter say the Russians may have deployed divers or unmanned submersible vehicles to drill holes in pipelines.

The leaks are the result of a “terrorist attack” and an “act of aggression” against the European Union, said Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the Ukrainian presidency.

Some anonymous Twitter accounts, which replicate the Russian state media, have tried to blame Washington and Kiev. On Tuesday on social media, an early February video clip of Joe Biden promised to “end” the Nord Stream 2 project if Russia invades Ukraine.

The Kremlin said that if Western Europe wants Russian gas, it should end sanctions against Moscow imposed following the Russian invasion of Ukraine seven months ago.

“I am aware that leaks will not have a significant impact on Europe’s energy resilience,” Secretary Blinken said in Washington.

“This only underlines the importance of our efforts to work together to secure alternative gas supplies to Europe and to support efforts to reduce gas consumption and accelerate true energy independence by moving to clean energy,” said one. spokesperson for the White House National Security Council. VOA.

While the pre-winter impact on Europe following the pipeline leak remains to be seen, the three leaks pose an immediate danger to wildlife and marine navigation.

The gas could suffocate animals and poses an explosion threat to passing ships, environmental groups say.

Contributors include Patsy Widakuswara at the White House; Nike Ching in the State Department and Chris Hannas in Washington. Some of the information contained in this report comes from Reuters.

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