The leaks in the Nord Stream pipelines under the Baltic Sea was the result of “a deliberate act”, the European Union’s top diplomat said on Wednesday, joining a growing chorus of European leaders speaking of sabotage.
The three separate leaks first discovered Monday in the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines from Russia to Germany “are not a coincidence and affect us all,” said Josep Borrell Fontelles, the country’s top foreign affairs and security representative. from the EU. in a sentence on Wednesday.
Brussels would support an investigation, he added, and “take additional steps to increase our resilience on energy security.”
European officials have been deeply disturbed by the pipeline breaks, which will not immediately affect Europe’s energy supply, but have underscored the vulnerability of the continent’s energy infrastructure. Top Polish and Ukrainian leaders blamed Moscow for the leaks, while Russian state media suggested US or Ukrainian involvement.
“Any deliberate disruption of Europe’s energy infrastructure is absolutely unacceptable and will receive a strong and united response,” said Mr Borrell. The comments resonated a warning posted on Twitter Tuesday night by Ursula von der Leyen, president of the EU’s executive arm, calling the leaks a “sabotage action”, adding that it was “principal” to carry out an investigation. The European Union lacks formal investigative powers, but officials said it would support investigations by national authorities.
On Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri S. Peskov called the accusations of Russian involvement “predictably stupid and absurd,” and again pointed the finger at the United States, saying that US natural gas suppliers were making “huge profits” from gas supplies to Europe. .
Military and security experts have warned for years about the danger posed by so-called hybrid warfare, that is, the ability to undermine democratic functions, disrupt normal life, and sow chaos and uncertainty. The leaks were a reminder of how exposed vital systems can be to outside attack.
As Europe prepares for winter, the immediate impact of leaks on its energy supply is expected to be limited: both pipelines were full of gas, but Nord Stream 2 had not been authorized to operate, and Nord Stream 1 has been pretty much cut off ever since. August by Gazprom, the energy giant controlled by the Kremlin.
But the leaks exacerbated Europe’s nervousness in its escalating energy war with Russia. Since the invasion of Ukraine, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has been tinkering with the continent’s energy supplies, turning off taps and ratcheting up tensions in response to European support for Ukraine.
The extent of the damage became clear on Tuesday, the day of the official opening of the Baltic Pipe project, a new gas pipeline that transports fuel from Norway to Poland through Denmark, which has been built as part of the European Union’s plan to stop Russian fossil fuels.
pipes 1 and 2
Both Danish and Polish leaders said the timing was not a coincidence. Swedish seismologists said they detected large underwater explosions Monday near the site of the leaks, with President Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan calling the incident “apparent sabotage.”
“The Baltic Pipe is the opposite of what served Putin’s war plans, the opposite of Nord Stream I and Nord Stream II,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland said. “We still don’t know the details of what happened, but we can clearly see that it is an act of sabotage. An act that probably marks the next stage in the escalation of this situation in Ukraine.”
Denmark’s Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen, echoed that judgment. “It’s hard to imagine that it’s accidental,” she told reporters, as she refused to place blame.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said on Wednesday that Finnish authorities will investigate “all ship movements in the Baltic Sea and try to find out what kind of movement has taken place in the immediate vicinity of pipelines.”
“There are several possibilities, but the magnitude of this event is such that surely some government actor is behind it,” he told the newspaper. Sanomat newspaper Helsingin. “This is all I can say about it at this time.”