NATO labels Nord Stream pipeline leaks result of "sabotage"
NATO formally labeled the mysterious leaks in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines detected earlier this week the result of deliberate sabotage and warned that such attacks would be met with a collective response from the organization.
Driving the news: "All currently available information indicates that this is the result of deliberate, reckless, and irresponsible acts of sabotage," the North Atlantic Council said in a press release Thursday.
- "Any deliberate attack against Allies’ critical infrastructure would be met with a united and determined response," the statement added.
- "NATO is committed to deter and defend against hybrid attacks," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg tweeted, noting that the "sabotage of the Nordstream pipelines is of deep concern."
State of play: The damage to the pipelines in international waters has risked “substantial environmental damage” and posed dangers to shipping, the statement added.
- The alliance's announcement comes a day after the European Union said the leaks were the "result of a deliberate act." Neither organization named a suspected culprit.
- Former CIA Director John Brennan on Wednesday told CNN he believes the leaks were a result of sabotage, most likely by Russia.
Gerhard Schindler, the former head of Germany's federal intelligence agency, told a German paper this week that Russia is the most likely the perpetrator of the leaks.
- "An unnoticed, conspiratorial damage to pipelines at a depth of 80 meters in the Baltic Sea requires sophisticated technical and organizational capabilities that clearly point to a state actor,” Schindler said, Politico reported.
- "Only Russia can really be considered for this, especially since it stands to gain the most from this act of sabotage," he added.
Russia has dismissed suggestions that it could be behind the leaks and on Wednesday announced that it would investigate the leaks as an act of "international terrorism," per Reuters.
The big picture: The leaks highlight the vulnerability of Europe's energy infrastructure and risk further increasing tensions between Russia and the West.
- The pipelines have been central to the energy crisis that has enveloped Europe in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, with Nord Stream 1 providing a crucial pathway for Russian gas to reach Europe until earlier this month when Russia closed the pipeline.
- On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to formally annex four regions of Ukraine where staged referendums in the regions — widely condemned by Western governments as a "sham" — took place.
- By annexing the regions, Russia could deem efforts to retake them as direct attacks on Russian soil.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details.