US officials speak with Danish counterparts about ‘apparent sabotage’ of Nord Stream pipelines

Top officials in the Biden administration on Tuesday evening spoke with their counterparts in Denmark to discuss what they called the “apparent sabotage” of two natural gas pipelines that run from Russia to Germany.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken both said they spoke with their Danish counterparts after seismic stations near the Baltic Sea recorded explosions as the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines began experiencing leaks.

The leaks led officials in multiple countries near the pipeline to point to sabotage, but Biden administration officials earlier on Tuesday declined to speculate on potential causes.

“I spoke to my counterpart Jean-Charles Ellermann-Kingombe of Denmark about the apparent sabotage of Nord Stream pipelines,” Sullivan wrote on Twitter. “The U.S. is supporting efforts to investigate and we will continue our work to safeguard Europe’s energy security.”

State Department spokesperson Ned Price minutes later released a statement using the same description.

“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod today about the apparent sabotage along the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines,” Price said.  “The United States remains united with our Allies and partners in our commitment to promoting European energy security.”

European countries have entered a standoff with Russia over its energy exports after the country invaded Ukraine in February, with the continent largely hoping to leverage other sources and combat rising prices.

Neither pipeline was supplying gas to Europe at the time of the explosions, despite being filled with gas.

Germany blocked certification of Nord Stream 2 shortly after the invasion. Russia suspended exports on the first pipeline in September, citing needed maintenance work, but the move was largely seen as retribution for the Group of Seven’s agreement earlier that day to cap the price of Russian oil.

“It is the authorities’ clear assessment that these are deliberate actions — not accidents,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said of the explosions.

Frederisken’s remark echoed some other European leaders, who also referenced the Russian invasion.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last week threatened to use nuclear weapons against the West, saying it is “not a bluff” and also calling up 300,000 reservists after Ukrainian forces made significant territorial gains in a counteroffensive.

“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,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Tuesday afternoon declined to go as far when asked about Morawiecki’s characterization.

“I’m not going to speculate on the cause of this,” she said. “It’s not something that we’re going to do.  I know our European partners are investigating this, so we stand ready to provide support to their efforts once they have completed their investigation.”

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