Nord Stream: a 4th leak, NATO denounces “irresponsible” sabotage | War in Ukraine
A gas leak from the Nord Stream 2 pipeline seen from the air in the Baltic Sea.
A fourth leak was revealed on Thursday on Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, targeted by NATO according to “irresponsible” acts of sabotage; Moscow hides behind the need for an “investigation”.
During a telephone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Russian president gave his point of view on this unprecedented act of sabotage, in reality an act of international terrorism, the Kremlin said in the evening in a release.
The damage caused to these strategic installations between Russia and Germany, against the backdrop of the conflict in Ukraine and tensions between Russia and the West, must be the focus of a meeting of the Security Council of the x27;UN Friday in New York, demanded precisely by Russia on Wednesday, at the very moment when it was the subject of all suspicions.
Without waiting, the; NATO denounced deliberate and irresponsible sabotage on Thursday, and let its suspicions shine through by asserting its willingness to defend itself against any hybrid attack using the lever of energy.
Russia, which on Wednesday pointedly pointed to US hostility to Nord Stream, observed that the sabotage involved state involvement and said it wanted an urgent investigation.
The fourth leak, in the Swedish area, revealed by the Swedish coastguard, adds to the three already known in this part of the Baltic, two on the Danish side and one on the Swedish side , which cause significant bubbling on the surface.
Following suspicious explosions on Monday, the leaks are in international waters off the Danish island of Bornholm, but within the respective Exclusive Economic Zones of the two Scandinavian countries.
The Swedish Coast Guard could not immediately clarify why the reporting of this new leak was late, but they did say that the two leaks on the Swedish side were located near the coast. one on the other.
They were however unable to confirm Swedish media reports that this new leak was located over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
The Lubmin gas terminal in Germany is the link between Russian oil and the European gas distribution network.
NATO denounced deliberate, reckless and irresponsible acts of sabotage, and assured that the Atlantic Alliance would defend itself against the use, for coercive purposes, of the leverage of energy or any other hybrid process by state or non-state actors.
Words that could be considered implicit accusations against Russia, accused since the beginning of the war in Ukraine of seeking to exploit Europe's dependence on its gas supplies.
Moscow on Wednesday denied stupid and absurd allegations of its responsibility, and implicitly blamed the United States by demanding answers from American President Joe Biden on his country's involvement, referring to his statements hostile to the gas pipeline.
The White House retorted that it was ridiculous to insinuate that the United States could have committed these sabotages, and denounced a Russian disinformation operation.
In the immediate future, following Germany and Norway in particular, Sweden and Finland announced on Thursday that they are strengthening the surveillance of their strategic installations.
Special attention is paid to the Finnish electricity network, said the country's finance minister, Annika Saarikko.
In Sweden, it is the two main nuclear power plants in the country, located in Forsmark (center-east) and Ringhals (south-west), which have gone into heightened vigilance.
The meeting of the Security Council, chaired by France, will be held on Friday at Russia's request, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said.
Sweden and Denmark were tasked with briefing Council members on the leaks in their exclusive economic zones, she said.
According to Danish authorities, more than half of the gas contained in the two pipelines has already escaped into the atmosphere with these leaks, and the rest could be gone by Sunday.
The two gas pipelines, long at the center of geopolitical tensions aggravated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, are operated by a consortium combining Russian giant Gazprom with Western groups, including Germany's Wintershall and E.ON, as well as the French Engie.
The gas pipelines are not operational due to the war in Ukraine, but both were filled with gas.
The extensive leaks cause major sea boiling from a several hundred meters wide on the surface.
The consortium said in a statement Thursday evening that it could begin assessing the damage to the pipeline as soon as it has received the necessary official authorizations, i.e. when the pressure in the gas pipeline has stabilized and the gas leak has stopped.
As long as the damage assessment does not “is not complete, it is not possible to predict the timetable for the restoration of the infrastructure, continued Nord Stream, headquartered in Switzerland.
Nord Stream 2, completed in 2021, was originally intended to double Russian gas import capacity in Germany. Its commissioning was suspended in retaliation for Russia's invasion of Ukraine.