NATO vows determined response to ‘deliberate, reckless’ sabotage of Nord Stream

Russia denies it was behind the explosions, as does the US, which says Moscow’s suggestion it would damage pipeline is ‘ridiculous’

Footage released by the Danish military shows a gas leak on the underwater section of the Nord Stream, September 29, 2022. (Twitter)
Footage released by the Danish military shows a gas leak on the underwater section of the Nord Stream, September 29, 2022. (Twitter)

NATO on Thursday said leaks from the Nord Stream gas pipelines appeared to be sabotage and vowed a “determined response” to any attacks on critical infrastructure.

“All currently available information indicates that this is the result of deliberate, reckless and irresponsible acts of sabotage,” the Western military alliance said in a statement.

“These leaks are causing risks to shipping and substantial environmental damage. We support the investigations underway to determine the origin of the damage,” it said.

The statement said that the alliance was “committed to prepare for, deter and defend against the coercive use of energy and other hybrid tactics.”

“Any deliberate attack against Allies’ critical infrastructure would be met with a united and determined response,” it said.

Sweden’s coastguard on Thursday said a fourth leak had been detected in the pipelines running from Russia to Europe after explosions were reported earlier this week.

“There are two leaks on the Swedish side and two leaks on the Danish side,” a Swedish Coast Guard official said, after three leaks were confirmed earlier this week on the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea.

According to the official, the two leaks on the Swedish side — one on Nord Stream 1 and a smaller one on Nord Stream 2 — were about one nautical mile from each other (1.8 kilometers, 1.15 miles.)

The coast guard said it had been aware of the leak since Tuesday, but could not immediately explain why it had not previously been reported.

Swedish authorities had previously reported a leak on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline northeast of Bornholm.

Denmark has meanwhile confirmed a leak on Nord Stream 2 to the southeast of the island, and another to the northeast above Nord Stream 1.

The vast leaks have caused underwater gas plumes, with significant bubbling at the surface of the sea several hundred meters wide, making it impossible to immediately inspect the structures.

A Swedish Coast Guard search and rescue vessel was patrolling the area.

“The crew reports that the flow of gas visible on the surface is constant,” the agency said in a statement.

Suspicions of sabotage emerged after the leaks were detected.

The vast leaks come as the West and Moscow square off over the conflict in Ukraine and the Kremlin is accused of using its mammoth energy stocks as a weapon to pressure Europe.

Russia has denied it was behind the explosions — as did the United States, saying Moscow’s suggestion it would damage the pipeline was “ridiculous.”

The UN Security Council will meet Friday to discuss the matter.

The sun rises behind the pipe systems and shut-off devices at the gas receiving station of the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline and the transfer station of the OPAL gas pipeline, Baltic Sea Pipeline Link, in Lubmin, Germany, July 11, 2022. ( Jens Buettner/dpa via AP)

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which link Russia to Germany, have been at the center of geopolitical tensions in recent months as Russia cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected retaliation against Western sanctions following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

While the pipelines — operated by a consortium majority-owned by Russian gas giant Gazprom — are not currently in operation, they both still contained gas.

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