According to Russia, Nord Stream is likely to have been targeted by state-backed terrorism
In an EU statement, an official said the incident has fundamentally changed the nature of the Ukrainian conflict because of leaks spewing gas into the Baltic Sea from pipelines to Germany.
In an investigation into the leaks in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, the European Union says it suspects sabotage was responsible for the damage off the coasts of Denmark and Sweden.
Four days after the leaks were first discovered, it remains unclear who might be behind any attack on pipelines built by Russia and European partners.
A Kremlin spokesman said: “This looks like an act of terrorism, possibly on the level of a state,” adding: “It is very difficult to believe that such an act of terrorism could have occurred without the involvement of some kind of state”.
In a war of words with the West over who was responsible, Russia said the United States stood to benefit. The leaks happened on territory under full control of U.S. intelligence agencies, according to Moscow.
Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, told a news briefing that Washington would boost its LNG sales if the pipelines were shut down.
However, CNN reported, citing three sources, that European security officials had spotted Russian support ships and submarines nearby.
Peskov responded that NATO had a much larger presence in the area than reported by CNN.
According to Zakharova, the EU investigation must be “objective”, and “Washington must explain itself,” a reference to Biden’s comment that “Nord Stream 2 would no longer exist if Russia invaded Ukraine.”
According to the White House, Russian claims that it damaged Nord Stream were unfounded. President Biden was referring to efforts at the time to secure certification for Nord Stream 2.
Reuters reports that leaks from the Nord Stream 1 pipeline are likely to stop on Monday.
According to Nord Stream AG, forecasts for the pipeline’s future operation cannot be made until damage assessments have been completed.
The Russian government had halted deliveries through Nord Stream 1, saying that sanctions from the West had hampered operations.
Although neither pipeline was supplying gas to Europe when the leaks were first detected, both contained gas.
An EU official said leaders will discuss the ramifications of the damage at a summit next week in Prague.
“The strategic infrastructure in the entire EU has to be protected,” the EU official in Brussels said.
“This changes fundamentally the nature of the conflict as we have seen it so far, just like the mobilization … and the possible annexation,” the EU official said, referring to Russia’s calling up 300,000 troops for the war and expectations President Vladimir Putin will annex Ukrainian regions.
The EU summit on Oct. 7 will be dominated by Russia’s war with Ukraine and the resulting energy standoff between Moscow and Europe.
On Wednesday, the European Union called for a “robust and united response” if there were more attacks, but avoided naming specific perpetrators directly.
An eighth package of sanctions against Russia will be discussed by EU leaders next week, including tighter trade restrictions, more blacklistings, and a cap on oil prices in third party countries where Russians are still selling oil.
Officials from the EU expect the 27-nation bloc to agree on parts of the sanctions package before the summit, such as blacklisting additional individuals and imposing trade restrictions on steel and technology.
There may not be a solution to other topics before the summit, such as the oil price cap or the sanctioning of banks.
Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, has been a vocal critic of sanctions, pointing out correctly that they have resulted in higher energy prices and a blow to the European economy.
For more on this story, please consider these sources:
- Russia says Nord Stream likely hit by state-backed ‘terrorism’ Reuters
- Glenn Greenwald asks if Russia would sabotage its own pipeline Fox News
- First on CNN: European security officials observed Russian Navy ships in vicinity of Nord Stream pipeline leaks CNN
- Sweden finds new leak in Russian gas pipeline – BBC News BBC News
- Attacks against NATO allies critical infrastructure to be met with determined response – NATO chief Reuters