The operator indicates the damage to the Nord Stream pipelines carrying Russian gas to the European Union

The operator of Nord Stream pipelines built to carry Russian gas to Europe reported “unprecedented” damage to the system on Tuesday, raising suspicions of sabotage after mysterious leaks caused a sudden pressure drop for three underwater pipelines in the Baltic Sea.

The leaks did not have an immediate impact on energy supplies to the European Union, but they did raise concerns about serious environmental damage from methane, a greenhouse gas that mainly contributes to climate change.

“Damage in one day at a time in three of the Nord Stream offshore pipelines is unprecedented,” Nord Stream said in a statement to Russian state news agencies.

Two of the damaged pipelines are part of Nord Stream 1, usually a major transport line for Russian natural gas to Europe, while the third is part of Nord Stream 2, which Western countries have prevented from operating at full capacity as part of sanctions due to the Russian war. in Ukraine.

Russia cut off Nord Stream 1 broadcasts in response to Western sanctions, although the Kremlin has also blamed technical failures. However, gas remains in the undersea pipelines even if deliveries are halted.

Russia’s Gazprom has said it will not reopen the Nord Stream gas pipeline to Europe as planned

The Nord Stream 2 operator said the pressure in the undersea pipeline dropped to 7 bar from 105 bar overnight.

Officials said the damage may have been the result of sabotage. “It’s hard to imagine it was accidental,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said in Poland, according to the Danish newspaper. Politiken. “We can’t rule out sabotage, but it’s too early to conclude.”

Frederiksen spoke in Ceremony in Golnev, Poland, on Tuesday for the inauguration of the new Baltic Pipeline, which will transport natural gas to Poland and neighboring countries from Norway via Denmark.

Europe is striving to diversify supplies and reduce dependence on Russian energy.

After Russia cut Nord Stream 1 in response to the sanctions, halting supplies to Germany, Poland and other countries, European leaders, including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, accused the Kremlin of using fossil fuels for “blackmail”.

A European Commission spokesman said that while the gas supply was not endangered by the new leaks, officials were concerned about potential environmental damage.

“This has not affected the security of supplies so far,” spokesman Tim McVeigh said. “As you know, deliveries were zero on Nord Stream 1 anyway, and North Stream 2 has not yet been authorized to operate. We are also analyzing the potential impact of these leaks from methane, a gas that of course has significant impacts on climate change, and we are in contact with states Members regarding the potential impact on maritime navigation.

However, the damage to the three pipelines was another reminder that Europe must prepare for a difficult winter without reliable supplies of Russian gas. “It is impossible to estimate” when the pipelines will be repaired, the Nord Stream operator said in its statement.

When Russia halted supplies via Nord Stream 1 earlier this month due to technical problems, it accused the West of refusing to provide the turbines needed for repairs.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Swedish Maritime Authority issued a warning of two leaks in the Nord Stream 1 pipeline in Swedish and Danish waters. The warning came shortly after a leak was discovered in a nearby Nord Stream 2 tube in Danish waters.

Danish and Swedish authorities said they are investigating the leaks and have introduced a five-mile exclusion zone near the Danish island of Bornholm, where ships have been banned.

On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Russian government was “extremely concerned” about the damage.

“This is very worrying information, there is some damage to the pipe in the Danish economic zone, it is not yet clear what kind,” Peskov told reporters during his daily phone call. The pressure has decreased significantly. This is an unprecedented situation and must be dealt with urgently.”

Peskov also said that Russia was “not ruling out any options” after a report by German newspaper Tagesspiegel suggested the possibility of sabotage.

In a statement, the German Energy Ministry was informed of a “sharp pressure drop” in the Nordstream 2 pipeline, but said it had no “clarity on the exact causes and facts”.

European Commission spokesman Eric Mammer said the cause of the leaks was still unknown. “We believe we do not have the elements necessary to determine the cause of the leak,” Mammer said. “It is clear that any act of sabotage on any infrastructure is something we condemn.”

Beatrice Rios in Brussels and Meg Kelly in Berlin contributed to this report.

The war in Ukraine: what you need to know

Last: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization” of troops in a speech to the nation on September 21, framing the move as an attempt to defend Russian sovereignty against a West that seeks to use Ukraine as a tool to “divide and destroy Russia”. . Follow us Live updates here.

Fighting: The successful Ukrainian counterattack forced a major Russian withdrawal in the northeastern Kharkiv region in recent days, as troops fled the cities and villages they had occupied from the early days of the war and abandoned large amounts of military equipment.

Annexation referendums: Russian news agencies reported that the interim referendums, which would be illegal under international law, are scheduled for September 23-27 in the breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. The Moscow-appointed administration in Kherson will hold another referendum in stages, starting on Friday.

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