The Nord Stream pipelines leaks are acts of “sabotage,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said after a meeting with Danish Defense Minister Morten Bodskov in Brussels.
“Discussed the sabotage on the #NorthStream pipelines with Defence Minister Morten Bodskov of our valued Ally Denmark. We addressed the protection of critical infrastructure in #NATO countries,” Stoltenberg said on his verified Twitter account.
Stoltenberg’s comments came after Swedish authorities warned of multiple leaks in the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines – both of which run under the Baltic Sea near Sweden and Denmark, and have been major flashpoints in the energy war between Europe and Russia.
There is reason to be concerned about the security situation in the Baltic Sea region, following the unexplained leaks in the Nord Stream pipelines, Bodskov said after the meeting on Wednesday.
“Russia has a significant military presence in the Baltic Sea region and we expect them to continue their sabre-rattling,” Bodskov said, his press office told CNN.
The two discussed what Stoltenberg called “sabotage” on the Nord Stream pipelines and “addressed the protection of critical infrastructure in NATO countries,” Stoltenberg tweeted.
The Danish Defense Ministry said that a total of three leakages – which European leaders say cannot be ruled out as sabotage – have been discovered on the gas pipelines Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2, respectively northeast and southeast of the Danish island of Bornholm.
There are two leakages from Nord Stream 1 and one leakage from Nord Stream 2, the press office told CNN.
The Danish Maritime Authority has issued a navigation warning and established a prohibited area to ensure that vessels do not enter the zones near the leakages.
Vessels can lose buoyant force if they enter the area and there can be an ignition hazard above the water and in the air, the press office said.
A prohibited area has subsequently been created with a radius of 5 nautical miles for ships and a prohibited area of 1 kilometer for aircrafts.
“It is too early to make any conclusions on the causes of the incidents. But at the same time it is hard to imagine this to be pure coincidence. At this point we can’t rule out that this is a deliberate action,” Bodskov said.”
“Obviously, this is a very serious matter. That is why we are now taking the precautions that we do, and increasing our presence in the area around Bornholm. Our authorities are doing everything they can to clarify the cause, in close cooperation with our partners,” he added.
It might take a week or two before the areas around damaged Nord Stream leaks are calm enough to be investigated, Bodskov’s office confirmed to CNN.
Numerous other global leaders have cited concerns over the cause of the leaks, with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen referring to the pipeline leaks as “sabotage action” in a tweet on Tuesday.
Finland Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said the damage caused to the pipelines is “very concerning,” while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that if the leaks were the result of an attack, “that’s clearly in no one’s interest.”