The three massive leaks on the Nord Stream pipeline system were allegedly deliberate acts rather than accidents, suggests Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen. Washington, meanwhile hails the move as a new opportunity for Europe to become independent of Russian energy, and a positive move towards the West’s goals on combatting climate change.
The last 24 hours have been bleak for Europe, after several blasts in the Baltic Sea caused three major gas leaks to Russia’s Nord Stream pipeline system. The leaks, which were detected in the international waters of Denmark’s and Sweden’s exclusive economic zone, prompted urgent investigations by Swedish authorities.
Preliminary seismic results from Sweden’s Uppsala University show one of the explosions registered a magnitude of 2.3 on the Richter scale, which would amount to over 100 kilos of dynamite— meaning that the leaks were caused by explosions rather than acts of nature such as an earthquake or a landslide. “It is now the clear assessment by authorities that these are deliberate actions. It was not an accident,” said Frederiksen at a press briefing cited by Reuters. “There is no information yet to indicate who may be behind this action.”
The US, for its part, corroborated initial reports suggesting the blasts were not an accident, adding that such an attack is “in no one’s interest.” However, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the damage to the Nord Stream pipeline system does present “challenges in the months ahead” for energy supply into Europe, but also creates a “very significant opportunity” to “finally end the dependence of Europe on Russian energy,” as well as help the West in its fight against climate change by “accelerating the transition to renewables.”
Nord Stream 1 was first brought into service in 2011, but following western sanctions Gazprom reduced flows to only 20% capacity, citing technical and maintenance difficulties. In the meantime, construction of Nord Stream 2 was completed and the pipeline pressurized in September 2021. But just before Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine, Germany halted the certification process indefinitely. Meanwhile Washington seven months ago assured its German counterparts they need not worry; President Joe Biden promised he has the means to stop the pipeline regardless.
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