Putin exposed as Russian warships spotted near leak of sabotaged gas pipelines

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Russian naval vessels, submarines, and a warship have reportedly been spotted in the waters near the site of the sabotaged Nord Stream pipelines, which started leaking gas into the Baltic Sea after a blast on Monday. Satellite images from June have revealed two Russian warships were sailing near the site, which supported claims made by European officials. Meanwhile, CNN reports Russian submarines were also spotted in a separate sighting last week near the site of the leaks, lying in both Danish and Swedish territorial waters. 

It comes after Moscow was accused of committing a “terrorist attack” by deliberately sabotaging the pipelines as an “act of aggression towards the EU”. 

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak tweeted:”Gas leak from NS-1 [Nord Stream 1] is nothing more than a terrorist attack planned by Russia and an act of aggression towards the EU. Russia wants to destabilise the economic situation in Europe and cause pre-winter panic.”

Now, Germany’s secret services are reportedly analysing images of all ship movements to assess whether such claims could be true. What is known is a Russian warship twice entered the Danish waters north of the Baltic Sea island of Bornholm, close to the site of the blasts at the Nord Stream systems, in June.

The ship entered Danish waters at 12:30am on Friday, only to return several hours later. It then departed after the Danish navy established radio contact, a move which Denmark called a  “deeply irresponsible, gross and completely unacceptable Russian provocation”.

Danish defence minister, Morten Bødskov, said at the time “we must accept that the Baltic Sea is becoming a high-tension area”, adding the incident was not the first time a Russian naval vessel had violated Danish territory.

While Moscow claims Copenhagen had no evidence it had violated its waters, satellite images published by the Covert Shores defence analysis suggest otherwise. 

H I Sutton from Covert Shores said: “Two Navy warships operating off Danish island in Baltic yesterday Matches broadly with claimed Russian Navy violated Danish territorial waters earlier that day.

“Denmark has supplied Harpoon to Ukraine and was hosting a democracy festival on the island .”

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Experts suspect Russia may have been laying mines under the pipelines, ready to detonate them. Speaking to Express.co.uk, John Baldwin, Managing Director of CNG Services said: “I am a gas engineer, and what’s clear is that you cannot get a leak out of a pipeline. A 200-mile pipeline just doesn’t have a leak.

“It’s obvious that Putin was getting ready to invade Ukraine from the middle part of 2021, so it’s possible then he could have put some mines down there around the pipe, which sort of detonated.”

Mr Baldwin suspects that Putin may have sabotaged his own pipes as a threat to the West to stop it from helping Ukraine amid the brutal invasion, which began in mid-February.

He said: “That’s almost like the message isn’t it, ‘I’ve mined my own pipes in international waters, but I might as well have mined your pipes and you’ll never find those mines. If you keep helping Ukraine one day they might go and you won’t have any gas at all.'”

Experts have also said the leaks at the two pipeline systems, which run from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea, were just 46 miles apart. The Danish energy authority told Reuters news agency the leak may last for several days and could go on for a whole week.

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It comes as  Russia suspended gas flows through the Nord Stream 1 indefinitely in August, citing maintenance issues it claims were delayed by Western sanctions. Nord Stream 2 had never become operational, and plans for gas flow to begin were put on ice after Putin invaded Ukraine earlier this year.

Russia has also repeatedly been accused of “weaponising” energy amid the war, gradually sending its supplies to Europe (which got 40 percent of its gas from Russia last year) plummeting both before and during the war. 

Now, the EU is scrambling to replace Russia’s gas by sourcing supplies from alternative producers. For instance, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz signed a gas deal with the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, while France’s TotalEnergies struck a huge deal with Qatar on Saturday. 

And while the West has pointed the finger at Moscow, the Kremlin has denied its involvement in the leaks and has even called for an investigation. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “This looks like an act of terrorism, possibly on a state level. 

“It is very difficult to imagine that such an act of terrorism could have happened without the involvement of a state of some kind. This is a very dangerous situation which requires an urgent investigation.”



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