“Sabotage”, “deliberate act”: European leaders on leaks in gas pipelines

“Sabotage”, “deliberate act”: European leaders on gas pipeline leaks

The pipelines are operated by a consortium owned by the Russian gas company Gazprom.

Copenhagen:

Sabotage is the most likely cause of leaks in two Baltic Sea gas pipelines between Russia and Europe, European leaders said Tuesday after seismologists reported explosions around the Nord Stream pipelines.

EU head Ursula von der Leyen said “sabotage” was behind the leaks. You have threatened the “strongest possible response” to any intentional disruption of Europe’s energy infrastructure.

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines have been at the center of geopolitical tensions in recent months as Russia cut off gas supplies to Europe in alleged retaliation for Western sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine.

Photos taken by the Danish army showed large areas of bubbles on the surface of the water, 200 to 1,000 m (656 feet to 0.62 miles) in diameter, from three losses in economic areas north of Poland, Sweden and Denmark.

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Danish Prime Minister Mette Fredriksson called them “deliberate acts”, saying: “We are not talking about an accident.”

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the leak was an act of sabotage that “probably marks the next stage in the escalation of the situation in Ukraine”.

And outgoing Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said there were “explosions”, although Foreign Minister Ann Linde said she “would not speculate on the motives or the actors.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US is looking into reports that the leak was “the result of an attack or some form of sabotage.” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Washington “supports the investigative effort and we will continue our work to protect Europe’s energy security.”

Copenhagen predicts that pipeline leaks, filled with gas but inoperative, will last “at least a week” – until the methane released by the underwater pipes runs out.

Like Denmark, the Swedish government said it did not consider it an act of aggression against it, noting that the incidents occurred outside its territorial waters, in exclusive economic zones.

Uppsala University seismologist Peter Schmidt told AFP that two “massive releases of energy” were recorded by the Swedish national seismic network just before the gas escaped near their locations off the Danish island of Bornholm.

“Energy is nothing more than an explosion with such a large release that it could cause it,” he said.

Russia had previously said it was “extremely concerned” about the leak.

Asked by reporters if it could be an act of sabotage, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that at the moment it is “impossible to rule out any option”.

But Ukraine said it was “just a terrorist attack planned by Russia and an act of aggression against the European Union”.

‘Extremely rare’

The pipelines are operated by a consortium owned by the Russian gas company Gazprom.

One of the Nord Stream 1 losses occurred in the Danish Economic Area and the other in the Swedish Economic Area, while the Nord Stream 2 loss occurred in the Danish Economic Area.

A leak on Nord Stream 2 was reported for the first time on Monday.

Two ships of the Danish navy were sent to the area, while the Swedish government called an emergency meeting on Tuesday.

Neighboring Norway, an oil producer, said Tuesday it had “strengthened emergency preparedness” on the Norwegian continental shelf. “There are reports of an increase in some background drone activity,” says a government statement.

A navigation warning has been issued for a radius of five nautical miles and a flight altitude of 1,000 meters (3,280 ft) around the Baltic Sea leeks.

“Pipeline leaks are extremely rare and therefore we see a reason to increase the level of preparedness following the incidents observed in the past 24 hours,” Kristofer Botzouw, director of the Danish Energy Agency, said in a statement.

A spokesman for Nord Stream told AFP it was unable to assess the damage, but acknowledged that “an accident in which three pipes hit the road at the same time in a single day is not common.” “.

Built together with the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, the Nord Stream 2 was intended to double the capacity to import Russian gas into Germany.

But Berlin blocked the newly formed Nord Stream 2 in the days before the war.

Germany, which has been heavily dependent on Russia’s fossil fuel imports to meet its energy needs, has come under severe strain since Moscow’s supply has fallen.

Gazprom has gradually reduced the amount of gas to be delivered via Nord Stream 1, until the pipeline closes completely in late August, blaming Western sanctions for delaying necessary repairs to the pipeline. .

Germany rejected Gazprom’s technical explanation for the cuts, instead accusing Moscow of arming energy during the war in Ukraine.

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by the NDTV staff and is posted by a syndicated feed.)

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