Sabotage is suspected in the sudden explosions in two natural gas pipelines running between Russia and Germany.
Early Monday morning, seismic monitoring recorded an explosion southeast of the Danish island Bornholm. That night, a second, stronger blast was recorded. Both were detected by seismic networks in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. While the second one gave off readings on the scale of a magnitude-2.3 earthquake, there was no mistaking them for a natural phenomena.
“There’s no doubt, this is not an earthquake,” said Bjorn Lund, director of the Swedish National Seismic Network.
Images released by Denmark naval vessels show a massive, foamy white area of discharge at the surface, with a strong force coming from beneath. The explosions damaged the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which run parallel along the ocean floor only about 90 meters down. Neither pipe was in active use, with the conflict over importing Russian fuel to EU nations, but they were pressurized with natural gas – mostly methane – to prevent the pipes from collapsing under the water pressure.
Danish Energy Minister Dan Jørgensen said that “we cannot say how long the leak will go” on for as the gas has not been turned off at the Russian end. There is no indication when the gas might be turned off.
“It is the authorities’ clear assessment that these are deliberate actions -– not accidents,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said.
Authorities believe the timing of the sabotage is ‘conspicuous,’ happening on the same day as a ceremony to announce the completion of another pipeline, this one crossing Denmark by land and sea to cross from Norway to Poland.
While there is no confirmation that Russia has sabotaged their own pipelines, either out of spite or as a warning about the vulnerability of other pipelines, suspicion is high.
“We can clearly see that this is an act of sabotage, an act that probably means a next step of escalation in the situation that we are dealing with in Ukraine,” said Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish Prime Minister.