Russia says Nord Stream pipeline leaks were in US zone

Moscow’s claims come as Sweden reports a fourth leak.

Pipes with the "Nord Steam" sign
The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which link Russia to Germany, have been at the centre of geopolitical tensions in recent months as Russia cut gas supplies to Europe [File: Hannibal Hanschke/EPA]

Russia’s foreign ministry has said that leaks on the Nord Stream pipelines were in a zone controlled by US intelligence services, the RIA Novosti news agency reported on Thursday, as a fourth leak was reported.

In recent days, European Union member states have been investigating sudden and unexplained leaks in the gas pipelines under the Baltic Sea.

The pipelines link Russia to Germany and have been at the centre of geopolitical tensions as Moscow cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected retaliation against Western sanctions following the Ukraine invasion.

Washington has rejected previous insinuations from Moscow that it was behind the leaks, calling them “ridiculous”.

Russia has said suggestions from European officials that Moscow sabotaged the pipelines were predictably “stupid”.

Of a fourth leak detected, the Swedish Coast Guard said on Thursday after three leaks were confirmed earlier this week: “There are two leaks on the Swedish side and two leaks on the Danish side.”

Gas bubbles from the Nord Stream 2 leak reaching surface of the Baltic Sea in the area shows disturbance of well over one kilometre diameter near Bornholm, Denmark, September 27, 2022. Danish Defence Command/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Gas bubbles from the Nord Stream 2 leak reach the surface of the Baltic Sea in an area showing a disturbance of well over one-kilometre in diameter near Bornholm, Denmark, on September 27, 2022 [Danish Defence Command/Handout via Reuters]

The official added that the two leaks on the Swedish side are “close to each other”.

The Swedish Coast Guard did not say why the latest leak appeared days after the initial breaches.

Media reported that the latest leak was detected at the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, but the coast guard did not confirm this.

Sweden had previously reported a leak on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline northeast of Bornholm, while Denmark has confirmed a leak on Nord Stream 2 to the southeast of the island, and another to the northeast above Nord Stream 1.

The vast leaks cause significant bubbling at the surface of the sea several hundred metres wide, making it impossible to immediately inspect the structures.

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

Russia’s FSB security service is investigating the damage to the pipelines as “international terrorism”, the Interfax news agency cited the general prosecutor’s office as saying.

Speaking on Wednesday, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said it would have taken a large explosive device to cause the damage.

The United Nations Security Council will meet on Friday to discuss the incident.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies