The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office opened a case of international terrorism. Moscow justified this step by saying that the damage to the oil pipelines “caused great economic damage to Russia.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called on Russia to participate in clarifying the incidents. The deputy head of the Russian UN mission in New York, Dmitry Polyansky, said on his Telegram channel on Wednesday that the UN session is expected to take place on Thursday. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also said that Russia wants to request a meeting of the Security Council on “provocations” surrounding the Baltic pipelines.
According to a Russian media report, an American helicopter may be involved in the leaks in the gas pipelines Nord Stream 1 and 2. The Internet newspaper lenta.ru wrote: “The multi-role helicopter MH-60R Strike Hawk flew for nine hours on Monday, September 26 over the Baltic Sea , about 250 kilometers from the Danish island of Bornholm, where the gas leak was discovered. On Wednesday, citing data from Flightradar.
The mediator, considered close to the Kremlin, emphasized, among other things, that the attack helicopter could also fight underwater targets. The helicopter was at the said location from 7:30 p.m. Moscow time on Sunday 25 September until 4:30 a.m. Moscow time.
Meanwhile, in the West, there was a growing conviction that the leaks in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines were the result of sabotage. The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said on Wednesday on behalf of the 27 member states that everything pointed to a deliberate act. At the same time, the European Union threatened officials with sanctions. NATO also spoke of acts of sabotage. However, Western politicians refrained from assigning blame. Russia denied responsibility.
On Monday night, a sharp drop in pressure was initially detected in one of the two tubes of the unused Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Later, the Nord Stream 1 operator reported a pressure drop in these two tubes as well. Danish authorities finally discovered a total of three leaks in the two pipelines.
The European Union’s chief diplomat, Borrell, confirmed that they are very concerned about the damage. “These incidents are not a coincidence and worry us all,” the Spaniard said. “All available information indicates that these leaks are the result of a deliberate act.” Any investigation aimed at providing clarity will be supported. At the same time, he made it clear that any deliberate disruption of European energy infrastructure is unacceptable and “will be answered with a strong and joint response.” The President of the European Union Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, made a similar statement.
NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter that a conversation with Danish Defense Minister Morten Podskov was about pipeline “sabotage”. They also talked about protecting critical infrastructure in NATO countries. Borrell also said that steps will be taken to make energy security stronger. Podskov himself emphasized that this was not about the critical infrastructure of his country.
Ukraine has already blamed Russia for the leaks on Tuesday. This would exacerbate the energy crisis in Europe and trigger panic before winter.
On Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied any blame. According to Interfax, he said: “It is stupid and absurd, as expected, and absurd, to make such assumptions.” Damage is also a big problem for Russia. Both Nord Stream 2 threads are gas-filled. “This gas costs a lot of money, and now it’s leaking into the air.”
Pesco said that before making any statements, investigations should be awaited to look into the leaks and determine whether there was an explosion. He also called for Russia’s participation in the investigation of the accidents. Pisco himself did not rule out sabotage on Tuesday.
For its part, the US government rejected Russia’s “ridiculous” suggestions that it might be behind the Nord Stream gas pipeline leak. “We all know Russia has a long history of spreading disinformation and it does so again here,” White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrian Watson said on Wednesday. Earlier, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry indicated that US President Joe Biden may have ordered the sabotage of the pipelines.
However, investigating leaks can take a long time. With so much gas in the pipelines, Danish Minister Podeskov said in Brussels that it could take a week or two for the area to cool down enough to investigate the leaks at a depth of about 80 metres.
According to the Danish Energy Authority, more than half of the gas has already leaked from the damaged lines. So it is likely that the lines will be empty on Sunday, the head of the authorities, Christopher Putzau, said at a press conference on Wednesday. According to the agency’s calculations, the climatic impact of a gas leak corresponds to about a third of the total climate impact in Denmark in one year. She said the perceived health risk to the population – particularly on the Baltic island of Bornholm – did not exist.
The Nord Stream 1 pipeline operator has not ruled out repairing the damaged double-tape. There is experience and providers for such work, said a spokesperson for Nord Stream AG. Before determining a course of action, however, damage must be assessed. So far there are no pictures of the actual leaks. They want to check the damage as quickly as possible, but that assumes the authorities have lifted the restricted areas that have been imposed.
According to Nord Stream 2 AG, the exact damage to the largely parallel pipeline is still unknown. A spokesperson said: “No one can seriously say at the moment what it looks like there” and what technical capabilities are there now.
According to Podskov, the leaks occur in international waters in the exclusive economic zones of Denmark and Sweden. The two countries set up safety zones for shipping after the discovery. Ships are not permitted to pass through the area around the leaks in a radius of five nautical miles (approximately 9.3 kilometers).
According to Greenpeace, gas in leaky pipelines can have the same climate-destroying potential as 30 million tons of carbon dioxide. The environmental organization wrote on Twitter that this corresponds to the annual emissions of twenty million cars in the European Union.
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