Nord Stream pipeline leaks spark ‘sabotage’ investigation
The Swedish police have opened an investigation for “sabotage”. Germany and Denmark were also investigating.
The leaks did not have an immediate impact on the European Union‘s energy supply, since Russia had already cut off gas flows. But the gas had remained in the pipes, raising concerns about possible environmental damage from leaking methane – the main component of natural gas and, when in the atmosphere, a major contributor to climate change . Footage provided by the Danish military showed gas bubbles reaching the surface of the water.
“The police have opened an investigation,” said a spokesman for the Swedish prosecutor’s office, Karl Jigland. “The current objective is sabotage.”
He said prosecutors would make a decision on Wednesday on whether to proceed with the case.
“The damage that occurred in one day simultaneously to three offshore pipeline lines of the Nord Stream system is unprecedented,” Nord Stream AG said in a statement to Russian state news agencies.
Russian Gazprom announces that it will not reopen the Nord Stream gas pipeline to Europe as planned
European officials suggested on Tuesday that the damage was likely deliberate. “It’s hard to imagine that it was accidental,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said, according to Danish newspaper Politiken. “We cannot rule out sabotage, but it is too early to conclude.”
Frederiksen was speaking on Tuesday at a ceremony in Goleniow, Poland, for the opening of the new Baltic Pipe, which will transport natural gas to Poland and neighboring countries from Norway via Denmark. The new pipeline is a key part of European efforts to find alternative sources of energy previously supplied by Russia.
A senior European defense official and a European environment official said the main and most obvious suspect behind the leaks was Russia. Russian officials had one motivation: to send a message to Europeans about the consequences of gas supply via the new Baltic gas pipeline. They also have the ability: a robust submersible program.
“No one on the European side of the ocean thinks this is anything other than Russian sabotage,” the environment official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the internal thinking. on the leak.
But European officials have warned they do not yet have evidence linking Russian authorities to the leaks.
Russia authorizes methane leaks at the risk of the planet
Two of the damaged pipes are part of Nord Stream 1, which was previously a major transmission line for Russian natural gas to Germany, Poland and other European countries. Russia decreased and then stopped flows via Nord Stream 1 earlier this year. The Kremlin blamed technical problems. European leaders, including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, have accused the Kremlin of using fossil fuels to “blackmail” countries supporting Ukraine.
The third leak is part of the new Nord Stream 2, which Western countries prevented from becoming fully operational after Russia launched its invasion.
The Swedish Seismological Institute (SNSN) recorded two separate explosions in the vicinity of the Danish island of Bornholm on Monday. Automatic monitoring detected the first explosion, which recorded an earthquake equivalent of 1.8 magnitude, at 2:03 a.m. and a second larger explosion, recording an earthquake equivalent magnitude of 2.3 , occurred at 7:04 p.m.
“The location of the second explosion is five or six kilometers from where the Swedish Maritime Authority puts the gas leak,” said Björn Lund of the Swedish Seismic Network. He noted that the complexity of the geographic area means there is some variance in any estimated distance.
The SNSN often records explosions in the area when the Swedish Navy conducts explosive drills, Lund said, and therefore has plenty of data on the surrounding area.
“This [comparative data] make us even more sure that these are explosions and not earthquakes or landslides or something more natural,” he said. “What we are seeing now is very similar to what we recorded for these Navy explosions.”
Germany’s National Center for Geoscience Research confirmed similar findings to The Post, saying it was certain the seismic disturbances were not caused by a natural earthquake.
Images provided to The Post by Planet Labs, an Earth imaging company, confirm that bubbles of methane appeared on the surface as early as 9 a.m. Monday, after the first recorded explosion.
An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia was likely responsible for the new leaks.
“The ‘gas leak’ from the NS-1 is nothing more than a planned terrorist attack by Russia and an act of aggression against the EU,” adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said. tweeted.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday that the United States was aware of unverified reports that the leaks could be the result of an “attack or some kind of sabotage.”
“If it’s confirmed, it’s clearly not in anyone’s best interest,” he told State Department reporters. “What is essential is that we work day by day, in the short and long term, to ensure the energy security of Europe and, for that matter, of the whole world,” he said.
Blinken said US efforts include increasing liquefied natural gas to Europe, increasing US oil production and exploiting the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. He insisted that leaks, whatever the cause, would not have a significant impact on Europe’s “energy resilience”.
A spokesman for the European Commission said that although the gas supply was not at risk, officials were concerned about the potential environmental damage caused by the leaks.
“It hasn’t affected security of supply yet,” spokesman Tim McPhie said. “Anyway, deliveries have been nil on Nord Stream 1, and Nord Stream 2 is not yet cleared to operate. We are also analyzing the potential impact of these methane leaks, which is a gas that of course has considerable effects on climate change, and we are in contact with Member States on the potential impact on shipping.
Eurasia Group energy analyst Henning Gloystein told The Washington Post that the prospect of the leaks being accidental is “woefully unlikely” given that ruptures have occurred in at least three places in one area. Most European governments are now putting their energy infrastructure on heightened alert, he said, for fear it could be the start of an asymmetric attack.
In addition, the combustible gas leak is dangerous to people and the surrounding environment, he said.
“A massive gas leak is very heavy in methane,” Gloystein pointed out, which is “bad for the ocean immediately and will rise into the atmosphere.”
In its statement, operator Nord Stream said “it is impossible to estimate” when the pipelines will be repaired.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Swedish Maritime Authority issued a warning about two leaks in the Nord Stream 1 pipeline in Swedish and Danish waters. The warning came shortly after a leak was discovered on the nearby Nord Stream 2 pipe in Danish waters.
Danish and Swedish authorities said they were investigating the leaks and introduced a five-mile exclusion zone near the Danish island of Bornholm, where ships are banned.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday that the Russian government was “extremely concerned” about the damage.
“This is very alarming information. There is driving damage in the Danish economic zone. It is not yet clear what type,” he told reporters in his daily conference call. This is an unprecedented situation that needs to be addressed urgently.
Peskov also said Russia was “not ruling out any options” after a report by German newspaper Tagesspiegel suggested potential sabotage.
European Commission chief spokesman Eric Mamer said the cause of the leaks remains unknown. “We believe we don’t have the elements to determine what the reason for the leak is,” Mamer said. “Obviously any act of sabotage on infrastructure is something we would condemn.”
Ilyushina reported from Riga, Latvia, and Birnbaum from Washington. Kate Brady in Berlin, Beatriz Rios in Brussels and John Hudson in Washington contributed to this report.
War in Ukraine: what you need to know
The last: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization” of troops in an address to the nation on September 21, describing the move as an attempt to defend Russian sovereignty against a West that seeks to use Ukraine as a tool to ” divide and destroy Russia”. .” Follow our live updates here.
The fight: A successful Ukrainian counteroffensive has forced a major Russian retreat into the northeastern Kharkiv region in recent days, as troops fled towns and villages they had occupied since the early days of the war and abandoned large quantities of military equipment.
Annexation referendums: Organized referendums, which would be illegal under international law, are set to take place September 23-27 in the breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, according to Russian news agencies. Another organized referendum will be organized by the Moscow-appointed administration in Kherson from Friday.
Pictures: Washington Post photographers have been in the field since the start of the war. Here are some of their most powerful works.
How you can help: Here’s how those in the United States can help support the people of Ukraine as well as what people around the world have donated.
Read our full coverage of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis. Are you on Telegram? Subscribe to our channel for updates and exclusive video.