Ukraine accuses Russia of ‘terrorist attack’ as ‘sabotage’ speculation swirls over Gazprom pipeline

It could take up to two weeks before the unexplained gas leaks on the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea can be inspected, the Danish defense minister said on Wednesday.

Due to the pressure inside the pipes and the amount of gas leaking “the reality is that it can easily take one or two weeks for the area to calm down enough to actually see what has happened,” Defense Minister Morten Bodskov told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting with NATO’s secretary general in Brussels.

“It is a very large blast that has taken place, therefore it will take time before we can get down there,” the Minister said.

The pipes are at a depth of 80 meters.

On Tuesday, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said authorities considered the leaks, which emerged on Monday, to be the result of “deliberate acts”.

“We are not talking about an accident,” she said.

Russia said earlier that it was “extremely concerned” about the leaks. Asked by reporters whether it could be an act of sabotage, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that at the moment “it is impossible to exclude any options”.

Ukraine, however, pointed the finger directly at Moscow, saying it was “nothing more than a terrorist attack planned by Russia and an act of aggression towards the EU”.

The European Union has promised “a robust and united response” to the “sabotage”.

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines have been at the center of geopolitical tensions in recent months as Russia cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected retaliation against Western sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine.

While the pipelines – operated by a consortium majority-owned by Russian gas giant Gazprom – are not currently in operation, they both still contain gas.

According to Danish authorities, the leaks will continue until the gas in the pipelines is exhausted, which should take “at least a week”.

EU chief Ursula Von der Leyen said the leaks were due to “sabotage”, threatening the “strongest possible response” to any disruption of European energy infrastructure.

Photos taken by the Danish military showed large areas of bubbles on the surface of the water, emanating from the three leaks in Sweden and Denmark’s economic zones north of Poland, from 200 to 1,000 meters in diameter.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the leaks were an act of sabotage which “probably marks the next step of escalation of the situation in Ukraine”.

And Sweden’s outgoing Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said “there have been detonations” although foreign minister Ann Linde said they would not “speculate on motives or actors”.

Copenhagen expects the leaks at the pipelines, which are full of gas but not operational, to last “at least a week” – until the methane escaping from the underwater pipes runs out.

Like Denmark, the Swedish government said it did not consider this as an act of aggression against it, given the events took place outside its territorial waters, in the exclusive economic zones.

Two “massive releases of energy” were recorded by the Swedish National Seismic Network shortly before the gas leaks near their locations off the coast of the Danish island of Bornholm, Uppsala University seismologist Peter Schmidt told AFP.

“With energy releases this big there isn’t much else than a blast that could cause it,” he added.

The White House official said the United States would not speculate on the cause but was ready to support European efforts to investigate.

Originally published as Ukraine accuses Russia of ‘terrorist attack’ as ‘sabotage’ speculation swirls over Nord Stream pipeline

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