Nord Stream: EU warns, Moscow denies suspicion | War in Ukraine
Nord Stream 2, completed in 2021, was intended to double the capacity to import Russian gas into Germany.
The EU on Wednesday warned against attacks targeting its energy infrastructure, after leaks on Nord Stream gas pipelines under the Baltic Sea were described by Europeans as “sabotage”, with Moscow deeming it “stupid” to suspect Russia. /p>
Any deliberate disruption of Europe's energy infrastructure is completely unacceptable and will be met with a strong and united response, said EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell.< /p>
The information available at this stage indicates that the leaks caused by explosions on these underwater installations linking Russia and Germany are the result of a deliberate act, the European official added in a statement on behalf of the 27 EU Member States.
Moscow, for its part, rejected the fairly predictable suspicions cast against it by certain capitals, considering that this was stupid and absurd.
The leaks affecting Nord Stream 1 and 2 are problematic for Moscow because Russian gas leaking out is very expensive, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov argued.
On Tuesday, Russia said it was extremely concerned, saying that no hypothesis, including sabotage, should be ruled out. The inspection of the two gas pipelines damaged by underwater explosions off a Danish island in the Baltic will not be possible for one to two weeks due to the backwaters, said Danish Defense Minister Morten Bødskov, on the sidelines of a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels.
The leaks that followed the explosions, identified since Monday off from the Danish island of Bornholm, between southern Sweden and Poland, are visible on the surface with extensive eddies.
Two underwater explosions were recorded near the sites of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipeline leaks.< /p>
The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline suffered a severe pressure drop on Monday, followed a few hours later by Nord Stream 1, which follows its route under the Baltic.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had already spoken of an act of sabotage on Tuesday evening after speaking with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.
Mrs Frederiksen also assured on Tuesday that it was liberated acts and not an accident. It is probably sabotage, added the resigning Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.
Like Denmark, Sweden does not see this as an act of aggression against it, as the incidents took place outside territorial waters, in the exclusive economic zones.
Objects of geopolitical arm wrestling in recent months, the two pipelines operated by a consortium dependent on the Russian giant Gazprom are not operational because of the consequences of the war in Ukraine. But both were still filled with gas.
In kyiv, the adviser to the Ukrainian presidency, Mykhaïlo Podoliak, denounced a terrorist attack planned by Moscow, without providing any evidence.< /p>
The Polish prime minister also suggested Russian involvement. We clearly see that this is an act of sabotage, which probably marks the next step in the escalation of the situation in Ukraine, said Mateusz Morawiecki, who just inaugurated a gas pipeline linking Norway to Poland on Tuesday.
We are not ruling out any scenarios, but we are not going to speculate on the motives or the actors who may be involved, explained Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde.
There is no information yet telling us anything about who is responsible, for her part, said Ms. Frederiksen.
Denmark has dispatched to the scene on Tuesday two military ships accompanied by helicopters and placed its energy infrastructure on orange alert, the second highest level of vigilance.
Norway, now Europe's main gas supplier, has announced increased security around its oil facilities.
Nord Stream 2, completed in 2021, was intended to double the capacity for importing Russian gas into Germany. Its commissioning was suspended in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine.
The leaks dim the prospect of gas deliveries to Europe via Nord Stream 1 resuming soon. Western sanctions for having delayed the necessary repairs of the installation.
The Europeans, very dependent on Russian gas for heating this winter, accuse on their side Moscow to use deliveries as leverage.
Navigation has been prohibited within a radius of 5 nautical miles (approximately 9 kilometers) around the three leaks, as well as their overflight within a radius of one kilometer.
According to the Danish authorities, the incidents have no consequences for the safety or health of local residents.
The direct environmental impact should also be limited, even if the unburned natural gas has a powerful greenhouse effect.
Joe Biden must say whether or not the United States is behind the leaks detected on Nord Stream in the Baltic Sea, Russia demanded on Wednesday, the Kremlin pointing to the huge profits made by American companies which benefit from them on the markets.
The US president is obliged to say whether the United States has carried out its threat, spokeswoman for Russian diplomacy Maria Zakharova launched on Telegram, referring to a statement by Mr. Biden in early February who asserted that Washington would shut down Nord Stream 2 if Moscow intervened militarily in Ukraine.
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova
If Russia invades [Ukraine], then there will be no more Nord Stream 2, Joe Biden claimed on February 7, two weeks before the start of the Russian offensive.
On Wednesday, Maria Zakharova judged that the American president should be responsible for his words. Europe needs to know the truth, she added, as the causes of leaks detected on Nord Stream 1 and 2 are still unknown.
Earlier in the day, the Kremlin had claimed that it was stupid and absurd to suspect Russia of being behind these massive leaks, after kyiv denounced a terrorist attack planned by Russia against European countries.
We see the hysterical reaction of the Poles [and] the enormous profits made by American suppliers of liquefied natural gas, which have multiplied their supplies on the European continent, denounced its spokesman Dmitri Peskov.
According to the Swedish Seismic Institute, two underwater explosions most likely due to detonations were recorded near the leaks before they were detected, without yet determining their origin.
The Russian Embassy in Denmark also denounced in a statement on Wednesday sabotage against the energy security of Russia and Europe.
The European Union has promised the strongest response to any deliberate disruption of European energy infrastructure.
Russia is regularly accused by Europeans of ;use the gas as a weapon against them.
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