Sep 30, 2022
By Bob Komsic
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday accused the West of sabotaging Russia-built natural gas pipelines under the Baltic Sea to Germany, a charge vehemently denied by the United States and its allies. Nordic nations said the undersea explosions that damaged the pipelines this week and have led to huge methane leaks involved several hundred pounds of explosives.
The claim by Putin came ahead of an emergency meeting Friday at the U.N. Security Council in New York on the attacks on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, and as Norwegian researchers published a map projecting that a huge plume of methane from the damaged pipelines will travel over large swaths of the Nordic region.
Speaking Friday in Moscow at a ceremony to annex four regions of Ukraine into Russia, Putin claimed that “Anglo-Saxons” in the West have turned from imposing sanctions on Russia to “terror attacks,” sabotaging the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in what he described as an attempt to “destroy the European energy infrastructure.”
He added that “those who profit from it have done it,” without naming a specific country.
In Washington, U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration dismissed Putin’s pipeline claims as outlandish.
“We’re not going to let Russia’s disinformation distract us or the world from its transparently fraudulent attempt to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory,” White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said Friday.
Moscow says it wants a thorough international probe to assess the damage to the pipelines, which were filled with gas but not supplying it to Europe. Putin’s spokesman has said “it looks like a terror attack, probably conducted on a state level.”
European nations, which have been reeling under soaring energy prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have noted that it is Russia, not Europe, that benefits from chaos in the energy markets and spiking prices for energy.
The U.S. has long opposed to the two pipelines and had repeatedly urged Germany to halt them, saying they increased Europe’s energy dependence on Russia and decreased its security. Since the war in Ukraine began in February, Russia has cut back supplies of natural gas sent to Europe to heat homes, generate electricity and run factories. European leaders have accused Putin of using “energy blackmail” to divide them in their strong support for Ukraine.
NATO has warned it would retaliate for any attacks on the critical infrastructure of its 30 member countries and joined other Western officials in citing sabotage as the likely cause of damage. Denmark is a NATO member, and Sweden is in the process of joining the military alliance. Both say the pipelines were deliberately attacked.
At the U.N., Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council while neither Sweden or Denmark will be represented at the meeting Friday as they are not members.
The attacks on the pipelines have prompted energy companies and European governments to beef up security around energy infrastructure.