Three unexplained leaks, preceded by explosions, caused leaks on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines on September 26, 2022. (SWEDISH COAST GUARD / Handout)
The object of all suspicion after the alleged sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, Russia counter-attacked on Wednesday, pointing the United States and obtaining a meeting of the UN Security Council, Washington in return denouncing a new operation of “disinformation”.
At the start of the evening, the Russian General Prosecutor’s Office announced that the security services (FSB) had opened an investigation for “an act of international terrorism”. “The Russian Federation has suffered serious economic damage as a result of these acts,” added the prosecution.
Earlier, the Swedish Security (Säpo) had indicated that it had “taken over from the police the preliminary investigation into the events that occurred on Nord Stream. The reason retained is currently aggravated sabotage”, indicated the service in a press release.
The day before, Ukraine had denounced a “planned terrorist attack” by Russia “against Europe”.
At Moscow’s request, a meeting of the UN Security Council will meet on Friday in New York (United States).
“France, as President of the Security Council, has informed us that Russia has requested a meeting on the Nord Stream leaks and that this meeting is scheduled for Friday,” Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said during a meeting. ‘a press conference.
Sweden and Denmark have been tasked with briefing council members on the leaks in their exclusive economic zones, she said.
Russian diplomacy has implicitly blamed the United States, demanding “answers” from US President Joe Biden on his country’s involvement.
“The American president is obligated to answer the question of whether the United States has followed through on its threat,” she said on Telegram, referring to a statement by Mr. Biden in early February which claimed that Washington “would end” Nord Stream 2 if Moscow intervened militarily in Ukraine.
“If Russia invades (Ukraine), then there will be no more Nord Stream 2,” Joe Biden said on February 7, two weeks before the start of the Russian offensive.
– “Ridiculous” to accuse the United States –
The White House retorted that it was “ridiculous” to insinuate that the United States could have committed these sabotages.
“We all know that Russia has been spreading disinformation for a long time and it’s doing it again here,” said White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson.
Satellite image taken September 26, 2022 and released September 27, 2022 by Planet Labs PBC, showing a gas leak on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline off the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea (2022 Planet Labs PBC / Handout)
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed almost symmetrically that it was “stupid and absurd” to suspect Russia, and in return pointed to “the enormous profits made by American suppliers of liquefied natural gas, which have multiplied their supplies on the European continent” since the beginning of the war in Ukraine.
The European Union has contented itself at this stage with warning against any attack targeting its energy infrastructures.
“Any deliberate disruption of Europe’s energy infrastructure is completely unacceptable and will be met with a vigorous and united response,” said the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell.
The information available at this stage indicates that the leaks caused by explosions on these underwater installations linking Russia to Germany are the result of a “deliberate act”, added the European official in a statement on behalf of the 27 member states. of the EU.
While Russia, struggling in its military operation in Ukraine, could be suspected of seeking to ignite a counterfire to instill doubt between the United States and its European allies, Poland underlined on Tuesday that the sabotage of the gas pipeline was integral part of the ongoing standoff in the war in Ukraine.
“We clearly see that this is an act of sabotage, which probably marks the next stage in the escalation of the situation in Ukraine,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said.
Germany has indicated that it is strengthening its vigilance on the protection of its critical infrastructures, through the voice of the Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser.
Map of the area where gas leaks have been detected on the route of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipeline (AFP / )
The inspection of the two damaged gas pipelines will not be possible for one to two weeks because of the turmoil caused by the gas, in any case indicated the Danish Minister of Defense Morten Bødskov.
The leaks, which followed the explosions, identified since Monday off the Danish island of Bornholm, between southern Sweden and Poland, are visible on the surface with vast bubbling.
According to the Danish authorities, more than half of the gas contained in the two gas pipelines has already escaped into the atmosphere.
“A clear majority of the gas has already come out of the pipes,” said the director of the Danish Energy Authority, Kristoffer Böttzauw. “We expect the rest to escape by Sunday.”
– Arm wrestling –
Objects of geopolitical arm wrestling in recent months, the two pipelines operated by a consortium allying the Russian giant Gazprom to Western groups are not operational because of the war in Ukraine. But both were full of gas.
Nord Stream 2, completed in 2021, was originally intended to double the capacity to import Russian gas into Germany. Its commissioning was suspended in retaliation for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The gas leak from the Nord Stream 2 pipeline seen from a Danish Defense F-16 off the island of Bornholm, September 27, 2022 in the Baltic Sea ( DANISH DEFENSE / Handout )
These leaks remove the prospect of an imminent resumption of gas deliveries to Europe via Nord Stream 1.