Russia claims that state-sponsored ‘terrorism’ has harmed Nord Stream
October 3, 2022
Russia stated on Thursday that gas leaks from pipelines to Germany seemed to be the act of state-sponsored “terrorism,” while an EU official said the incident had fundamentally transformed the nature of Ukraine’s conflict.
The European Union is examining the cause of the leaks in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which are operated by Gazprom, and has stated that it suspects sabotage was responsible for the damage off the coastlines of Denmark and Sweden.
Four days after the breaches were discovered, it is still unclear who could be behind any attack on the pipelines that Russia and European allies spent billions of dollars constructing.
“This appears to be an act of terrorism, maybe on a state level,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, adding that “it is very difficult to conceive that such an act of terrorism could have occurred without the involvement of some form of state.”
Russia also claimed that the United States would benefit from the dispute about who was to blame. Moscow has previously stated that the disclosures took place in the territory “completely under the authority” of US intelligence agencies.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, told a press conference that if the pipelines were shut down, Washington would be able to increase its liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments.
However, CNN said, citing three sources, that European security agencies had detected Russian navy support ships and submarines near the breaches. When asked to comment on the CNN claim, Peskov stated that NATO had a significantly larger presence in the area.
Zakharova asked for an “independent” EU probe and said Washington would have to “explain itself,” referring to President Joe Biden’s February comment that if Russia pushed soldiers into Ukraine, “there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2.” Biden was referring to probable sanctions on the new pipeline, which was built before Moscow launched troops into Ukraine but was never put into service.
The Nord Stream 1 pipeline’s leaks are expected to halt next Monday, according to the pipeline’s operator. However, a Nord Stream AG representative stated that no predictions for the pipeline’s future operation could be made until the damage was investigated. Russia had halted Nord Stream 1 deliveries, claiming that Western sanctions had impeded operations.
While neither pipeline was sending gas to Europe when the leaks were discovered, both contained gas. According to an EU official, EU leaders will meet in Prague next week to address the consequences of the damage. “The key infrastructure throughout the EU must be protected,” stated an EU source in Brussels.
“This fundamentally changes the nature of the conflict as we have seen it thus far, just like mobilization and possible annexation,” the EU official said, referring to Russia’s mobilization of additional troops for the war and expectations that 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 stalemate between Moscow and Europe, which has left the EU racing to secure alternative gas suppliers.
The European Union warned on Wednesday of a “strong and coordinated response” if future assaults occur, and emphasized the importance of protecting its energy infrastructure, although EU leaders avoided openly naming potential culprits.
Next week, EU leaders will debate the eighth package of sanctions against Russia presented by European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, which includes harsher trade restrictions, more blacklistings, and an oil price cap for third countries.
The EU official predicted that the 27-nation bloc would agree on components of the sanctions package before the summit, including the blacklisting of additional individuals and some trade restrictions on steel and technology. Other issues, including the oil price cap or bank sanctions, may not be resolved before the summit, he noted.
Sanctions must be imposed unanimously by EU member states, and Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, has been a vociferous opponent, claiming that sanctions have “backfired,” raising energy costs and harming European economies.
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