Norway’s prime minister has said its military will be more visible at oil and gas installations as politicians across Europe warned the suspected sabotaging of the two Nord Stream pipelines could herald a new stage of hybrid warfare targeting vulnerable energy infrastructure in order to undermine support of Ukraine.
Jonas Gahr Støre told a news conference Norway would step up its military presence at Norwegian installations after the country had become Europe’s largest supplier of natural gas.
He added that any attack on the Nato member’s offshore installations would be handled jointly with its allies.
Large amounts of natural gas have been pouring into the Baltic Sea since Monday through three separate leaks on the two Nord Stream pipelines built to deliver Russian gas to Europe. Seismologists recorded explosions in the Swedish and Danish waters where the pipeline passes the island of Bornholm on Monday morning and evening, suggesting the leaks were deliberate.
The Latvian foreign minister, Edgars Rinkēvičs, posted to social media that it “seems we enter a new phase of hybrid war”, without naming who he believed was responsible. “Sabotage on Nord Stream I and II pipelines must be classified as most serious security and environmental incident in the Baltic Sea,” he added.
The German defence minister, Christine Lambrecht, said: “The presumed act of sabotage on the Baltic Sea pipelines has again made clear how reliant we are on critical infrastructure – including that below water.” However, she urged caution on identifying the culprits while investigations are being undertaken.
Oppositions politicians in Germany were more forthright. Roderich Kiesewetter, a member of parliament for the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), told the Guardian the pipeline attack had the hallmarks of the “hybrid warfare approach” Russia has pursued for the last decade, with the aim of “dividing the European Union not by military but through social and diplomatic means”. [Continue reading…]