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Germany suspects Nord Stream gas pipeline system was damaged as a result of an act of sabotage, which could lead to a serious escalation of the energy confrontation between Russia and Europe.
The evidence points to intentional damage rather than a technical problem, according to a German security official. Gas leaks from three pipelines in the Baltic Sea occurred almost simultaneously, prompting Denmark to say it is tightening security measures around its energy assets.
This is the clearest signal that Europe will have to get through this winter, at least without any significant flows of Russian gas. Pipelines have already been shut down, and now any hope that Moscow could reopen cranes. As a result, gas prices jumped again.
“It's hard to imagine that these are coincidences,” — Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told reporters on Tuesday. — “We cannot rule out sabotage.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that it would be premature to talk about possible sabotage pending the results of the investigation, but he did not rule out such a possibility.
Authorities in Germany, Denmark and Sweden are investigating leaks that were so large they were spotted by the radars of nearby ships. The leaks come from Nord Stream, which continued to carry small amounts of gas to Europe until early month, Moscow did not stop the flows due to a technical problem, and from Nord Stream 2 — project that was halted in the final stages of construction before the outbreak of the war.
Denmark has sent a warship to the area, as well as an environmental ship and a helicopter, according to the Danish military. in its exclusive economic zone in the Baltic Sea, as well as in Sweden.
The Swedish Maritime Administration has banned ships from entering the area within five nautical miles of both Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 1. Nord Stream 2, citing damage, leaks and “explosive gas nearby.” The Swedish Coast Guard is monitoring the area from an aircraft.
No leaks have been found in the Nord Stream gas pipeline in the Finnish Exclusive Economic Zone, Petteri Sally, head of the Gulf of Finland Coast Guard, said by phone.
According to network operator Gascade, the damage to the pipelines did not affect the adjacent onshore gas infrastructure in Germany.
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