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'No doubt explosions': Powerful blasts recorded at Nord Stream as Europe suspects sabotage


Seismologists have claimed that the recorded gas leaks at the Nord Stream 1 and 2 undersea pipelines that damaged the systems in three places were a result of suspected underwater blasts that are yet to have been ruled out as sabotage. The pipelines, which were built to transit gas from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea, started leaking on Monday, which experts from Denmark and Sweden have confirmed occurred after strong explosions were felt near the leaks. Ukraine has claimed that the pipelines were deliberately sabotaged in an act of Russain aggression. 

 

It comes just days before a new pipeline carrying gas from Norway to Europe is set to open, sparking concerns that the explosions were a result of a “terrorist attack”. 

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak called it a “clear act of aggression against the EU”, which is hugely dependent on Russian gas, getting 40 percent of its total supplies from Moscow last year. 

Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has also claimed that the leaks were a result of sabotage, although he did not provide any evidence. He was quoted saying: “We are talking about three leaks with some distance between them, and that’s why it is hard to imagine that it is a coincidence”. 

The Danish Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen, has also said this also cannot be ruled out.

The accusations come after the operators of Nord Stream 2 warned that pressure in the pipeline had plummeted on Monday afternoon, resulting in leaks to the system, which seismologists have said were triggered by explosions.

Bjorn Lund, from Sweden’s National Seismology Centre, told local media: “There is no doubt that these were explosions.”

The Danish authorities then urged ships to avoid the area near the island of Bornholm, which the pipeline travels through on its route to Germany.

The operator of Nord Stream 1, the other system which experienced a leak following an explosion,  said the pipelines had both sustained “unprecedented” damage at the same time, on the same day.

 

Experts have said the leaks at the two pipeline systems were just 46 miles apart, with one of the leaks being just 12 nautical miles from Bornholm. The Danish energy authority told Reuters news agency that the leak may last for several days and could go on for a whole week.

Kristoffer Bottzauw, head of Denmark’s Energy Agency told the publication: “The sea surface is full of methane, which means there is an increased risk of explosions in the area.”

It comes amid Russia’s war in Ukraine and Vladimir Putin’s slashing of supplies to Europe, the EU has been scrambling to replace Russia’s gas with supplies from alternative producers. For instance, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz signed a gas deal with United Arab Emirates on Sunday, while France’s TotalEnergies struck a huge deal with Qatar on Saturday. 

Russia has been continuously accused by the West of “weaponising” energy, slashing supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline indefinitely since August. Moscow has blamed the move on maintenance issues, delayed by Western sanctions.

Meanwhile, Russia was also accused of purposefully slashing Europe’s supplies to speed up the approval of Nord Stream 2, which was put on ice after Russia invaded Ukraine. 

Now, Ukraine has accused the Kremlin of weaponising gas once more, pointing the fingure at Moscow for the leak. Mr Podolyak tweeted: “Gas leak from NS-1 [Nord Stream 1] is nothing more than a terrorist attack planned by Russia and an act of aggression towards the EU. Russia wants to destabilise the economic situation in Europe and cause pre-winter panic.”

But it is important to not that neither pipeline is currently in operation, although Russia has warned that it would affect Europe’s energy security.

However, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has also claimed to be “very concerned” about the incident, also not ruling out the possibility of a deliberate attack, despite Ukraine suspecting Russia itself is to blame. 

He said it was “very concerning news. Indeed, we are talking about some damage of an unclear nature to the pipeline in Denmark’s economic zone.” Denmark is also Britain’s main supplier of gas, providing around 60 percent of the UK’s supplies. 

This is a breaking story. More to follow.



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