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  • Ramzi Allen Alafandi

Attacks on Nord Stream Pipelines Persist as New Economic Sanctions Are Considered

The Swedish coast guard has discovered a new leak in the Nord Stream pipelines. This is the third leak discovered in Danish waters after two more were found in Swedish waters on Thursday. Gas has been leaking and rising to the surface of the Baltic Sea since Monday. A larger leak located above Nord Stream 1, while a smaller leak is located beside Nord Stream 2, according to a statement released by the Swedish coastguard. The document also revealed that the distance between the two points was around 1.8 km (1.1 miles).

Russia and its European allies spent billions of dollars developing the Nord Stream pipelines, and it is unclear who is responsible for the leaks. Seismologists had detected explosions deep in the water before the breaches were visible. Danish Defense Command published a video showing evidence of the gas leak, the biggest of which is 1 km (0.6 miles) in diameter, at the surface of the Baltic Sea as a result of the leakage. The affected areas are within the exclusive economic zones of Denmark and Sweden.

According to news accounts, the European Union and NATO consider this to be a state-sponsored terrorist operation. EU authorities have promised a strong response to any purposeful interruption of Europe's energy infrastructure. This follows previous accusations from the EU that Russia was using gas supplies as a weapon against the West over its support for Ukraine. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) joined the EU in stressing the necessity of preventing future sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova claimed on a pro-Kremlin show that the breach happened on U.S.-controlled territory since it occurred in the economic zones of NATO member states Denmark and Sweden. The United States' intelligence community has de facto dominance over NATO members. Despite NATO's formal neutrality, U.S. intelligence services exert significant influence over its member countries. Due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Sweden has reversed its long-held policy of non-alignment and is now asking to join NATO, of which Denmark is already a member. No evidence was provided in response to Zakharova's claims that the United States exerts influence over Sweden and Denmark.

Russia is a frequent opponent of the U.S.'s actions in Europe, particularly in regard to military aid and influence. The Kremlin's spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said that "this looks like an act of terrorism, possibly on a state level," adding that "it is very difficult to imagine that such an act of terrorism could have happened without the involvement of a state of some kind." The Kremlin denied responsibility for the strikes on Wednesday and argued that U.S. gas businesses had benefited greatly from Russia's curtailed sales to Europe in reaction to Western sanctions imposed over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Maria Zakharova, a spokesperson for Russia's Foreign Ministry, stated at a press conference that shutting down the pipelines would allow the United States to increase its shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Zakharova urged an impartial EU probe and said Washington needed to clarify its response to statements made by President Joe Biden in February, in which he declared "there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2" if Russia sent military into the Ukraine. Biden was presumably referring to potential fines imposed on the new pipeline, which was completed before Moscow sent troops into Ukraine but has yet to be put into operation. Peskov said that there had been a significantly stronger NATO presence in the region after reports that European security authorities had recently detected Russian military support ships and submarines not far from the leaks. It has been four days after the breaches were discovered, and it is still unknown who is responsible for the pipeline attack.

An EU source has said that the repercussions from the damage will be addressed during the session in Prague next week, and a Brussels-based EU official has stressed the need of safeguarding the EU's vital infrastructure. The energy standoff between Russia and Europe as a result of the conflict in Ukraine will also be a major topic of discussion, as the continent scrambles to secure new sources of natural gas in the wake of Russia's ongoing aggression against Ukraine. The European Commission's chief, Ursula von der Leyen, has suggested an eighth round of sanctions on Russia, which will be discussed by EU leaders. These measures include a limit on the price of oil sent to foreign nations, more trade restrictions, and additional blacklistings. The 27 member nations of the union will have to put aside their disagreements in order to impose the fresh sanctions on Russia, adding to the seven sets of punitive measures imposed since Russian forces moved into the Ukraine on February 24.

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