BRUSSELS, Sept 28: The European Union suspects that damage to two underwater natural gas pipelines was sabotage and is warning of retaliation for any attack on Europe’s energy networks, a senior official said on Wednesday.
“All available information indicates those leaks are the result of a deliberate act,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement on behalf of the bloc’s 27 members.
“Any deliberate disruption of European energy infrastructure is utterly unacceptable and will be met with a robust and united response.”
Seismologists reported on Tuesday that explosions rattled the Baltic Sea before unusual leaks were discovered on two underwater natural gas pipelines running from Russia to Germany.
The incidents came as the EU struggles to keep a lid on soaring gas and electricity prices.
Some European leaders and experts pointed to possible sabotage given the energy standoff with Russia provoked by the war in Ukraine.
The three leaks were reported on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which are filled with natural gas but aren’t delivering the fuel to Europe.
The pipelines allow gas to be piped to Germany without transiting through Ukraine or Poland.
The damage means that they are unlikely to be able to carry any gas to Europe this winter even if the political will to bring them online emerged, according to analysts.
Borrell said the EU will support any investigation into the damage, and “will take further steps to increase our resilience in energy security.”
Leaks in the gas pipelines were spotted off the Danish Baltic Sea island of Bornholm.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has said that “it is the authorities’ clear assessment that these are deliberate actions — not accidents.”
But she said “there is no information indicating who could be behind it.” Frederiksen rejected the suggestion that the incident was an attack on Denmark, saying the leaks occurred in international waters.
Denmark’s defence minister, Morten Bødskov, met Wednesday with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to discuss the incidents.
The Danish defence ministry said it also believes “that the violations occurred as a result of a deliberate act.”
Bødskov warned in a statement that “there is reason to be concerned about the security situation in the Baltic Sea region.
Despite the war efforts in Ukraine, Russia has a significant military presence in the Baltic Sea region and we expect them to continue their saber rattling.” (AP)