Swedish authorities are reporting several leaks in a key undersea pipeline that supplies Europe with natural gas from Russia, and some European politicians are alleging it’s the result of sabotage.
The Danish armed forces posted photos of the leak to Twitter, showing the Baltic Sea roiling with bubbles. Danish authorities told Reuters, "The sea surface is full of methane, which means there is an increased risk of explosions in the area."
Energy is a key wedge in the conflict in Ukraine, with Russia cutting supply to Germany via the undersea Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline over the summer with a raft of dubious excuses. Nord Stream 1 is managed by a consortium, with Russia's state energy company Gazprom holding the majority of shares. In response, Germany has taken control of multiple Russian energy subsidiaries and refineries in the country, and European nations are currently figuring out how to get much-needed energy for the winter from nations besides Russia, such as the U.S. or Kazakhstan.
Sweden's Maritime Authority issued a warning over the leaks in Nord Stream 1, telling Reuters on Tuesday morning that they were in the Swedish economic zone and the Danish economic zone, and that they were "very near each other." On Monday, the authority issued a warning over a leak in Nord Stream 2, a planned sister pipeline that was halted by Germany since Russia invaded Ukraine.
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"Today we faced an act of sabotage, we don't know all the details of what happened, but we see clearly that it's an act of sabotage, related to the next step of escalation of the situation in Ukraine," Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki while announcing the opening of a new pipeline between Poland and Norway, Reuters reported on Tuesday. The new pipeline is itself designed to lessen European dependence on Russian gas.
Sweden's state broadcaster reported on Tuesday that scientists at the Swedish National Seismic Network detected two "clear explosions" in the region on Monday, with one having a magnitude of 2.3 and registering at dozens of monitoring stations.
"We are talking about three leaks with some distance between them, and that's why it is hard to imagine that it is a coincidence," Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said.
Russia has also chimed in, and appeared to deflect responsibility. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that sabotage cannot be "ruled out."
"This is very concerning news. Indeed, we are talking about some damage of an unclear nature to the pipeline in Denmark's economic zone," he said. "This is an issue related to the energy security of the entire continent."