Moscow questioned Wednesday whether Washington caused mystery undersea gas pipeline leaks in Europe, which had been blamed on sabotage, which US officials bluntly called ridiculous as Russia opened a “terrorism” probe.
The three outflows from the Russia-Germany Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines have felt natural gas prices soaring, exacerbating an energy crunch in Europe as it stands on the threshold of winter also fanning geopolitical tensions.
Russia’s FSB security service said it had launched an “international terrorism” investigation, the Russian prosecutor’s office announced, citing “intentional actions” to damage the pipelines.
“As the current Security Council president France has informed us today that Russia has requested a meeting about the Nord Stream leaks and this meeting is being planned for Friday,” Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde told a press conference.
The question of who is responsible has prompted high-level finger-pointing, with Moscow charging the United States had already said Nord Stream 2 was “finished” if Russia invaded Ukraine.
Washington dismissed the suggestion, with a spokeswoman for the National Security Council saying: “We all know Russia has a long history of spreading disinformation and is doing it again here.”
They “are not a coincidence”, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell stated. “All available information indicates those leaks are the result of a deliberate act.”
EU chiefs Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel have also blamed the Nord Stream leaks on sabotage, as have leaders of several European countries.
Michel tweeted that they “appear to be an attempt to further destabilize energy supply to EU”.
The EU is currently mulling further sanctions on Russia for annexation votes imposed on four regions in Ukraine that Moscow’s forces occupy.
One of the seismologists told AFP “there isn’t much else than a blast that could cause it”.
Two Danish military vessels have been sent to the affected area.
Following Europe’s sabotage allegations, fossil fuel-rich Norway — which has overtaken Russia as the biggest supplier of gas to Europe — boosted security at its oil and installations in response.
The Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority earlier this week called for “increased surveillance from all operators and shipping companies on the continental shelf”.
But Berlin blocked newly completed Nord Stream 2 in the days before the war.
Originally published as Washington dismisses Moscow’s finger of blame for gas leaks