A fourth leak has been detected in undersea pipelines running from Russia to Europe.
“There are two leaks on the Swedish side and two leaks on the Danish side,” a Swedish coastguard official told local media. The latest leak is on Nord Stream 2. Three leaks were confirmed this week on the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea.
The Nord Stream lines run through the Baltic to transport gas from Russia to Germany. Neither was operating but both were filled with gas. The Danish and Swedish governments believe that the leaks off their coasts were deliberate. Norway has said that its military will be more visible at its own oil and gas installations.
Before the leaks were reported, explosions were recorded. A first explosion was recorded by seismologists early on Monday southeast of the Danish island of Bornholm. That night a second, stronger blast northeast of the island was equivalent to an earthquake of magnitude 2.3. Seismic stations in Denmark, Norway and Finland also registered the explosions.
Some European officials and energy experts have said that Russia is probably responsible for any sabotage — it directly benefits from higher energy prices and economic anxiety across Europe — although others cautioned against pointing fingers until investigators are able to determine what happened.
A British defence source told The Times that the “premeditated” sabotage could have been prepared by underwater drones that laid the explosives weeks beforehand. The UN security council will convene tomorrow to discuss the incident.
Moscow has said accusations that it is responsible are “predictable” and “stupid”. Its foreign ministry said that leaks on the Nord Stream pipelines occurred in a zone controlled by US intelligence services, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.
Jeppe Kofod, the Danish foreign minister, said the damage to the pipelines was “intentional” and should concern the whole of Europe, although he added that investigations needed to take place before anyone was blamed.
He told Sky News: “This is unprecedented — we haven’t seen that kind of attack or sabotage on critical European energy infrastructure. We do not take this very easy — it’s something we are working closely on with allies in the EU and NATO.”