Russia says British Navy blew up Nord Stream, London denies involvement

LONDON — The Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday that British naval personnel blew up the Nord Stream gas pipeline last month, a lie intended to distract from Russia’s military failures in Ukraine. London said it did.

Russia has provided no evidence for allegations that key NATO members sabotaged critical Russian infrastructure in the worst crisis in Western relations with Russia.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said “British experts” from the same unit directed a Ukrainian drone attack on a Russian Black Sea Fleet ship in Crimea early on Saturday, which was largely repulsed by Russian forces. He said the minesweeper suffered minor damage.

“According to available information, representatives of this unit of the Royal Navy took part in the planning, preparation and execution of a terrorist attack in the Baltic Sea on 26 September this year, using the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipes. We blew up the line,” the ministry said.

Britain denied the allegations.

“The Russian Ministry of Defense seeks to make false allegations on a grand scale to undermine their disastrous response to an illegal invasion of Ukraine,” the UK Ministry of Defense said.

“This hoax says more about the debate going on inside the Russian government than about the West.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the Russian government would seek a response from the UN Security Council, saying on social media that the Russian Federation had taken a series of actions against the Russian Federation in the Black and Baltic Seas. He said he wanted to draw attention to terrorist attacks. British involvement in them. ”

A sharp drop in pressure in both pipelines was recorded on September 26, and seismologists detected an explosion, sparking a wave of speculation about sabotage of one of Russia’s most important energy corridors. rice field.

Reuters was unable to immediately confirm the conflicting claims as to who was responsible for the damages.

Gas leak at Nord Stream 2 seen from a Danish F-16 interceptor in Bornholm
A gas leak from the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as seen from a Danish F-16 interceptor in Bornholm, Denmark on September 27, 2022. (Danish Armed Forces Command/Forsvaret Ritzau Scanpix/via Reuters)

Mystery of the pipeline

Both Sweden and Denmark have concluded that the four leaks in Nord Stream 1 and 2 were caused by explosions, but have not specified who is responsible. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called the damage sabotage.

Sweden has ordered an additional investigation into the damage done to the pipeline, the prosecutor in charge of the case said in a statement on Friday.

The Kremlin has repeatedly said claims of Russia’s responsibility for the damage are “absurd” and Russian officials say Washington has an incentive to sell more liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe. says.

The US denies any involvement.

The combined annual capacity of the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines is 110 billion cubic meters, more than half of Russia’s normal gas exports.

The 1,224 km (760 mile) long section of the pipeline that runs from Russia to Germany lies at a depth of about 80 to 110 meters.

black sea fleet

Russia, meanwhile, said Ukrainian forces had attacked a Black Sea Fleet ship in Sevastopol, the largest city in Crimea annexed by Russia, in the early hours of Saturday.

“The attack involved nine unmanned aerial vehicles and seven autonomous maritime drones,” the Department of Defense said.

“The preparation of this terrorist act and the training of military personnel of the Ukrainian 73rd Naval Operations Special Center were carried out under the guidance of British experts in the town of Ochakiv.”

The ministry said all aerial drones were destroyed, although minesweeper Ivan Golbets suffered minor damage. Sevastopol is the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.