Russia says UK navy blew up Nord Stream, London denies involvement

  • Russia says UK naval personnel blew up pipelines
  • Russia says UK naval personnel helped invade Crimea
  • Russia does not provide evidence in support of an allegation
  • Britain denies Russian claims
  • Russia says it will seek UN attention

LONDON, Oct 29 (Reuters) – Russia’s defense ministry said on Saturday British naval personnel blew up the Nord Stream gas pipeline last month, a claim London said was false and designed to distract from Russian military failures in Ukraine .

Russia did not provide evidence over its claim that a leading NATO member had damaged critical Russian infrastructure amid the worst crisis in relations between the West and Russia since the depths of the Cold War.

The Russian ministry said “British experts” from the same unit had directed Ukrainian drone attacks on ships from the Russian Black Sea fleet in Crimea earlier on Saturday which it said were largely repulsed by Russian forces, with minor damage to Russian minesweeper.

“According to available information, representatives of this British Navy unit took part in the planning, provision and execution of a terrorist attack in the Baltic Sea on September 26 this year – blowing up the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines to up,” said the ministry.

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Britain denied the claim.

“To distract from their disastrous handling of the illegal invasion of Ukraine, the Russian Ministry of Defense is resorting to false claims of an epic scale,” the British defense ministry said.

“This invented story, says more about debates happening inside the Russian government than it does about the West.”

Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, said that Moscow will seek a response from the United Nations Security Council saying on social media that Moscow wanted to draw attention to “a series of terrorist attacks committed against the Russian Federation in the Black Seas and Baltics, including the British part in them”.

Russia, deeply isolated by Western nations since its February 24 invasion of Ukraine, has previously blamed the West for the explosions that tore apart the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines built in Russian on the bed of the Baltic Sea.

But he had not previously given specific details about who he thinks was responsible for the damage to the pipelines, which were previously the main routes for Russian gas supplies to Europe.

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A sudden drop in pressure was registered on both pipelines on September 26 and seismologists detected explosions, triggering a wave of speculation about damage to one of Russia’s most important energy corridors.

Reuters could not immediately verify any of the conflicting claims about who was to blame for the damage.

A gas leak in Nord Stream 2 as seen from a Danish F-16 interceptor on Bornholm, Denmark September 27, 2022. Danish Defense Command / Forsvaret Ritzau Scanpix / via REUTERS

PIPE MYSTERY

Sweden and Denmark have both concluded that four leaks on Nord Stream 1 and 2 were caused by explosions, but have not said who might be responsible. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called the damage an act of sabotage.

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

The Kremlin has repeatedly said claims of Russian responsibility for the damage are “stupid” and Russian officials have said Washington has a motive as it wants to sell more liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe.

The United States has denied involvement.

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

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Sections of the 1,224-km (760-mile) long pipelines, which run from Russia to Germany, are at a depth of about 80-110 meters.

BLACK SEA FLEET

Russia meanwhile said Ukrainian forces attacked ships from the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, the largest city in Russian-annexed Crimea, in the early hours of Saturday.

“Nine unmanned aerial vehicles and seven autonomous maritime drones were involved in the attack,” the Ministry of Defense said.

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

All the aerial drones were destroyed although minor damage was done to the sweeper machine Ivan Golubets, the ministry said. Sevastopol is the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

Reporting by Reuters Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Frances Kerry

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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