Russia accuses US and demands probe into gas pipeline damage

Moscow, Russia - Russia cast suspicions on the US on Friday as it demanded an investigation into what caused recent damage to Baltic pipelines that has left gas leaking into the sea.

A satellite image taken September 26, 2022, released September 27, 2022 shows a gas leak on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline off the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea.
A satellite image taken September 26, 2022, released September 27, 2022 shows a gas leak on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline off the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea.  © REUTERS

The four leaks were identified earlier this week after powerful blasts were recorded in the Baltic Sea on Monday, the same day that pressure on both pipelines dropped. Two of the leaks are in Denmark's Exclusive Economic Zone and two are in Sweden's.

Neither of the Nord Stream pipelines was in operation, but both are filled with natural gas – composed mostly of the greenhouse gas methane – that has been rapidly escaping.

The cause of the leaks remains unclear, and NATO and European governments are suspecting sabotage. Top European Union officials have threatened punishment for whoever was behind the leaks, but have so far not attributed blame.

US says there is no evidence Russia is planning to drop dirty bomb
Russia US says there is no evidence Russia is planning to drop dirty bomb

Sweden's coastguard reported on Friday that the amount of gas leaking from the breach in its exclusion zone has diminished, after observing the situation from the air.

The authority also pointed out that ships in the areas should now keep a safe distance of 7 nautical miles, rather than 5 nautical miles, as previously.

The four leaks near the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea are all in international waters, two each in the Swedish and Danish Exclusive Economic Zones. Three of the four leaks lie within a few miles of each other.

Russia accuses the US of organizing the pipeline disruptions

National Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev has accused the West of complicity in the "terrorist attacks" on the Nord Stream pipelines.
National Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev has accused the West of complicity in the "terrorist attacks" on the Nord Stream pipelines.  © KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP

The unexplained incidents come amid sky-high tensions between Europe and Russia regarding Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Moscow has throttled gas supplies, a move that threw energy markets into disarray and triggered fears about a supply crunch as cold weather approaches.

"It is obvious that the main beneficiary, first of all economically, is the US," National Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said at a meeting with intelligence chiefs on Friday, according to Interfax news agency.

Russia says US satellites are legitimate targets in Ukraine war
Russia Russia says US satellites are legitimate targets in Ukraine war

Patrushev accused the West of launching a campaign against Russia immediately after the leaks became known. Therefore, he said, it was necessary to deepen the cooperation of intelligence agencies within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a loose association of former Soviet states, and to reveal the "principals and accomplices of the crime."

Patrushev also called for joint legal action against non-governmental organizations and media controlled by the West to avoid revolutions, he said. "Russia has the relevant experience and is ready to share it," he offered.

Russia has consistently restricted press freedom in recent years and banned a growing number of non-governmental organizations. Patrushev, once Russian intelligence chief, is considered a long-time supporter of Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin.

The chief of Russia's foreign intelligence service, Sergei Naryshkin, claimed Moscow had material that indicates a "Western trail in organizing and carrying out the 'terrorist attacks' on the Nord Stream pipelines."

He accused the West of "doing everything to hide the real authors and organizers of this international terrorist act."

The "collective West led by the US" is doing everything to maintain its hegemony, Naryshkin said, according to Russian news agencies. As a result, the international security architecture is out of balance and the potential for conflict is increasing worldwide, he claimed.

Cover photo: Collage: REUTERS & Mikhail KLIMENTYEV / SPUTNIK / AFP

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