Putin claims Nord stream pipeline was 'attacked'

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Britain’s ambassador to the UN has pledged to protect the UK’s energy supplies amid fears its critical infrastructure is at risk following the alleged sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines. James Kariuki said Britain is working alongside Europe to protect supplies as he is “deeply concerned” over the incident that occurred in the Baltic Sea between Swedish and Danish waters last week. It comes after seismologists confirmed that “explosions” likely triggered gas leaks from Russia’s pipeline systems which were designed to send Russia’s gas to Germany. While Moscow has denied any involvement, the Kremlin has been accused of deliberately sabotaging the systems. Now, there are fears Russia could target UK systems.

Mr Kariuki told the UN Security Council: “The damage to the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines in the Baltic Sea is of deep concern.

“These leaks are not only causing risks to shipping but also substantial environmental damage in the Baltic Sea. They are releasing enormous amounts of methane into the earth’s atmosphere.”

Meanwhile, the Russian ambassador to the UN claimed at the council meeting that the US has much to gain in gas trade due to the sabotaged pipelines, although he stopped short of explicitly placing the blame on Washington.

But on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin went all guns blazing and directly accused the US and its allies of blowing up the pipelines. He said: “The sanctions were not enough for the Anglo-Saxons: they moved onto sabotage.”

Mr Kariuki responded by tearing up such claims, arguing: “We have heard some absurd Russian claims and conspiracy theories this afternoon.”

Richard Mills, the US deputy representative to the United Nations, also strongly refuted Moscow’s claims. He said at the meeting: “Let me be clear, the United States categorically denies any involvement in this incident and we reject an assertion saying the contrary.

“Germany, Sweden and Denmark have launched investigations to determine the cause behind the damage to the pipelines. A Danish report has so far found that the leaks to the pipelines were more than one kilometre in diameter. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said that this proves “these are deliberate actions. It was not an accident.”

Mr Kariuki agreed, and signalled his full support for all the investigations. He said: “We agree with the assessment that all currently available information indicates this damage is the result of sabotage. We strongly support the investigations by Denmark, Sweden and Germany.”

He then called on the Security Council to take action, saying: “We must establish clear international norms that such damage is utterly unacceptable”, later confirming “the UK will continue to work alongside our partners to protect Europe’s energy security.”

Prime Minister Liz Truss has also called the explosions to Russia’s own pipeline systems a clear act of sabotage. Now, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed a Royal Navy frigate is patrolling the North Sea and will work with the Norwegian Navy to protect critical underwater energy and internet infrastructure from attacks. 

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace attended a crisis meeting of northern European nations on Monday as the region scrambles to co-ordinating security responses, which will involve increased maritime presence.

He said: “The Nordic states and ourselves are deeply vulnerable to people doing things on our cables and our pipelines”. Mr Wallace added that the “mysterious” attack on the Nord Stream pipelines should remind us of how “fragile” Britain’s energy and internet infrastructure are to “hybrid attacks”. 

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Now, Britain is set to deploy two specialist ships to patrol and protect its undersea network from Russia. Mr Wallace said: “The first multi-role survey ship for seabed warfare will be purchased by the end of this year, fitted out here in the UK and then operational before the end of next year. The second ship will be built in the UK and we will plan to make sure it covers all our vulnerabilities.”

While Moscow is finger pointing at Russia, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak has called the move a “clear act of aggression against the EU” by Russia. 

He tweeted: “Gas leak from NS-1 [Nord Stream 1] is nothing more than a terrorist attack planned by Russia and an act of aggression towards the EU. Russia wants to destabilise the economic situation in Europe and cause pre-winter panic.”

It comes after Russia had already cut off supplies travelling through the Nord Stream 1 indefinitely, refusing to say when flows will restart. Nord Stream 2, which was awaiting approval by German regulators, was abandoned after Putin sent his troops into Ukraine back in mid-February. 

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