'Serious escalation' if Russia did Nord Stream leaks- analyst

STORY: It remains far from clear who might be behind the attack, if proven, on the Nord Stream pipelines that Russia and European partners spent billions of dollars building.

John Lough, an associate fellow on the Russia and Eurasia programme at Chatham House, said while Russia attacking it's own pipelines does 'seem at one level inconceivable,' he believes it could be a new tactic from the Kremlin to ramp up pressure on NATO in its support of Ukraine.

''My initial interpretation yesterday was that this was possibly an effort to signal to NATO countries, to Ukraine's allies, that Russia has this capacity,'' Lough said.

Lough added that even the threat of an attack on pipelines or underwater data cables was a 'serious escalation' in hostilities between Russia and the West.

While neither pipeline was delivering gas to Europe at the time, the incidents scupper any remaining expectations that Europe could receive fuel via Nord Stream 1 before winter.

Tom Marzec-Manser, head of gas analytics at Independent Chemical and Energy Market Intelligence said that energy markets are 'in for a rough ride' now that Nord Stream 1 is inoperable.

''I think any belief that winter was not looking that bad in terms of supply and demand, certainly been thrown out the window now as a result of the developments in the last few days,'' Marzec-Manser said.

The Kremlin on Wednesday said claims that Russia was somehow behind a possible attack on the pipelines were stupid, adding that the United States had opposed the pipelines and its companies had made big profits supplying gas to Europe.