Spain says Russia is most likely responsible for the Nord Stream gas leak

BORNHOLM, DENMARK – SEPTEMBER 27: Danish Defense shows a gas leak in Nord Stream 2 is seen from a Danish F-16 interceptor aircraft in Bornholm, Denmark on September 27, 2022.

Danish Defense / | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Spanish Energy Minister Teresa Ribera said Thursday Damage to two Nord Stream subsea gas pipelines It was most likely a premeditated attack linked to the Russian government.

“It was a deliberate act and, in my opinion, could probably be linked to the push for continued provocation by the Kremlin,” Reuters quoted Ribera as telling reporters.

The Russian Foreign Ministry could not be reached for comment when contacted by CNBC Thursday morning.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that allegations that Russia was behind the suspected attack were “stupid”.

The cause of the gas leak is not yet known. Swedish police are currently investigating the leaks and the European Union sabotage suspectsEspecially since the incident comes amid a bitter energy standoff between Brussels and Moscow.

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines connect Russia with Germany via the Baltic Sea.

On Monday, seismologists reported explosions near the unusual Nord Stream gas leak, which is located in international waters but within the exclusive economic zones of Denmark and Sweden.

The explosions led to an outflow of gas into the Baltic Sea. The Danish armed forces said video footage showed that the largest gas leak caused a surface disturbance about one kilometer (0.62 mi) in diameter, while the smallest leak caused a circle about 200 meters high.

US foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned “Strong and united” retaliatory measures if evidence of intentional disruption is detected.

His comments echoed European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who vowed that any deliberate disruption of Europe’s active energy infrastructure would result in “the strongest possible response”.

Notably, neither of them directly blamed Russia for the suspected attack.

Russian ships were reportedly seen near the area of ​​the leaks

CNN American News Channel mentioned Thursday, quoting three unnamed sources, that European security officials noticed the presence of ships and submarines of the Russian Navy near the area of ​​leaks in the Nord Stream gas pipelines.

When the Kremlin was asked to comment on the CNN report, Peskov said there was a much larger NATO presence in the region.

The North Atlantic Council, the main political decision-making body in the Western military alliance NATO, He said In a statement issued Thursday, he said, “Any deliberate attack against critical Allied infrastructure will be met with a unified and resolute response.”

“All information currently available indicates that this was the result of deliberate, reckless and irresponsible acts of sabotage. These leaks cause shipping risks and significant environmental damage,” the council said.

Neither pipeline was pumping gas at the time of the leaks but both were compressed: Nord Stream 1 stopped pumping gas to Europe “indefinitely” earlier this month, as the Moscow operator said international sanctions on Russia had prevented it from Perform vital maintenance work.

Meanwhile, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was never officially opened as Germany refused to certify it for commercial operations due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

– CNBC’s Holly Eliat contributed to this report.

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