Major leaks in two natural gas pipelines connecting Russia to Europe were being investigated Tuesday as possible acts of sabotage.
The breaks in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines caused natural gas to bubble up through the Baltic Sea, causing a foamy disturbance visible from the surface.
“We have established a report and the crime classification is gross sabotage,” a Swedish national police spokesperson said.
Seismic monitoring stations in Sweden, Finland and Norway recorded two explosions Monday near the Danish island of Bornholm, the largest of which registered a 2.3 on the Richter scale.
“There’s no doubt this is not an earthquake,” said Bjorn Lund, director of the Swedish National Seismic Network.
The Nord Stream pipelines — a major artery for natural gas transport between Russia and Europe — have been a flashpoint in the economic cold war over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Gas transit has been halted over the pipeline for months — with Moscow blaming technical issues while Europe accused the Kremlin of retaliating against Western sanctions.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki joined the Swedes Tuesday in calling the new leaks an act of sabotage.
“We can clearly see that this is an act of sabotage, an act that probably means a next step of escalation in the situation that we are dealing with in Ukraine,” he said.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said foul play could not be ruled out, and a German government source told the newspaper Tagesspiegel, “We can’t imagine a scenario that isn’t a targeted attack.”
Even Russia — a likely suspect in any potential pipeline plot — said it would not rule out sabotage.
“This is an unprecedented situation that requires an urgent investigation. We are extremely worried by this news,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “No version [of events] could be excluded.”
The damage to the pipeline was reportedly extensive, with German media describing an “explosive drop in pressure.”
Business consultancy Eurasia Group issued a bleak analysis on the damage Tuesday.
“The multiple undersea leaks mean neither pipeline will likely deliver any gas to the EU over the coming winter, irrespective of political developments in the Ukraine war,” it said.
With Post wires