Tue, 29 Nov 2022

Live: Fourth leak found on Nord Stream pipelines

France24
29 Sep 2022, 16:08 GMT+10

Sweden's coast guard discovered a fourth gas leak on the damaged Nord Stream pipelines earlier this week. The European Union suspects Russian sabotage was behind the leaks on the subsea Russian Nord Stream pipelines to Europe and has promised a "robust" response to any intentional disruption of its energy infrastructure. Follow our liveblog for the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

7:50am: Fourth leak found on Nord Stream pipelines, Swedish coast guard says

Sweden's coast guard discovered a fourth gas leak on the damaged Nord Stream pipelines earlier this week, a spokesperson told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.

The European Union suspects sabotage was behind the gas leaks on the subsea Russian pipelines to Europe and has promised a "robust" response to any intentional disruption of its energy infrastructure.

"Two of these four are in Sweden's exclusive economic zone," coast guard spokesperson Jenny Larsson told the paper late on Wednesday. The other two breaches are in the Danish exclusive economic zone.

While neither pipeline was in use at the time of the suspected blasts, they were filled with gas that has been spewing out in the Baltic Sea since Monday's ruptures.

7:50am: Finland boosts surveillance after blasts at Nord Stream gas pipelines

Finland is watching its territorial waters very closely following explosions of two Nord Stream gas pipelines, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Wednesday.

Marin told reporters that Finland, which shares the European Union's longest land border with Russia, considers the explosions "grave news" and "extremely worrying". The pipelines were built by Russia and European partners.

The European Union on Wednesday promised a "robust" response to any intentional disruption of its energy infrastructure after saying it suspected sabotage was behind gas leaks under the Baltic Sea. Russia has also said sabotage was a possibility.

"Finnish authorities and the government is watching the situation very closely. We are monitoring the situation in the Finnish economic area and our territorial waters," Marin said.

Defence minister Antti Kaikkonen said Finland had not detected increased military activity in its vicinity in recent days but keeps close contact with Nordic neighbours and NATO allies to exchange information.

The government said it will move to restrict heavily the transit of Russian citizens holding tourist visas to other countries in the Schengen region via Finland, refusing to give a date of enforcement before an official decision over the matter expected on Thursday.

7:15am: Moscow-installed administrators of four provinces ask Putin for incorporation into Russia

The Russian-installed administrations of the four provinces have formally asked Putin to incorporate them into Russia, which Russian officials have suggested is a formality. "This should happen within a week," Rodion Miroshnik, the Russia-installed ambassador to Moscow of the self-proclaimed Luhansk people's republic, told the RIA state news agency

"The main thing has already happened - the referendum has taken place. Therefore, let's say: the locomotive has already started and it's unlikely to be stopped."

2:30am: US announces $1.1 billion more in military aid for Ukraine

The US will provide an additional $1.1 billion in aid to Ukraine, with funding for 18 more advanced rocket systems and other weapons to counter drones that Russia has been using against Ukrainian troops, the Biden administration announced Wednesday.

The latest package is being provided under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which funds contracts to purchase weapons and equipment. And it brings the total of US aid to Ukraine to nearly $17 billion since the Biden administration took office.

The aid announcement comes as Russia moves to annex parts of Russian-occupied Ukraine that held Kremlin-orchestrated referendums on living under Moscow's rule. The votes were denounced by Kyiv and the West as illegal and rigged.

"We will not be deterred from supporting Ukraine, we will continue to stand with the Ukrainian people, and provide them with the security assistance they need to defend themselves, for as long as it takes," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

Since the funding is for contracts for weapons and equipment, it is aimed at helping Ukraine secure its longer-term defense needs. It could take a year or two for Ukraine to get the systems. The U.S. has used Pentagon drawdown authority to provide weapons more immediately, and another announcement for that Defense Department aid is expected early next week.

10:42pm: Europe ramps up energy security after suspected sabotage

European companies are ramping up security around pipelines and energy prices are climbing again as the suspected sabotage of two pipelines that deliver natural gas from Russia underscored the vulnerability of Europe's energy infrastructure and prompted the EU to warn of possible retaliation.

Some European officials and energy experts have said Russia is likely to blame for any sabotage - it directly benefits from higher energy prices and economic anxiety across Europe - although others cautioned against pointing fingers until investigators are able to determine what happened.

Russia has sharply curtailed natural gas shipments to Europe in retaliation for sanctions that the West put in place after its invasion of Ukraine. On Wednesday, Russian energy giant Gazprom increased the pressure, threatening on Twitter to cease dealing with a Ukrainian company that controls one of the two remaining pipelines that ship Russian gas to Europe.

Coming on top of the apparent sabotage to the Nord Stream gas pipelines, "that means a major escalation and readiness to escalate," Agata Loskot-Strachota, senior fellow in energy policy at the Center for Eastern Studies in Warsaw, told AP.

10:24pm: Zelensky thanks allies, works phone to rally support

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called a number of foreign leaders on Wednesday as Moscow looked poised to annex a swath of Ukrainian territory and later thanked them for their support.

Zelensky spoke to the leaders of countries including Britain, Canada, Germany and Turkey to press demands for more military aid and tougher sanctions on Moscow after what Kyiv and the West denounced as illegal sham referendums in four partially occupied provinces on Ukraine.

"Thank you all for your clear and unequivocal support. Thank you all for understanding our position," Zelensky said in a late-night video address.

"Ukraine cannot and will not tolerate any attempts by Russia to seize any part of our land."

9:05pm: Finland watching its waters closely after gas pipeline blasts, PM says

Finland is watching its territorial waters very closely following explosions of two Nord Stream gas pipelines, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Wednesday.

Marin told reporters that Finland, which shares the EU's longest land border with Russia, considers the explosions "grave news" and "extremely worrying". The pipelines were built by Russia and European partners.

The European Union on Wednesday promised a "robust" response to any intentional disruption of its energy infrastructure after saying it suspected sabotage was behind gas leaks under the Baltic Sea. Russia has also said sabotage was a possibility.

"Finnish authorities and the government is watching the situation very closely. We are monitoring the situation in the Finnish economic area and our territorial waters," Marin said.

Germany will 'never recognise' territories annexed by Russia

Germany will not accept the results of the annexation votes organised by Moscow in the Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a phone call on Wednesday.

"Germany will never recognise the results of the sham referendums" in the regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, Scholz told Zelensky, according to the chancellor's spokesman Steffen Hebestreit.

Kremlin-installed authorities in the four Ukrainian regions under Russian control on Tuesday claimed victory in the votes, saying that preliminary results show a majority in favour of being annexed by Moscow.

Scholz and Zelensky discussed "possibilities for further support" from Germany, including the reconstruction of Ukraine, Hebestreit said in a read-out of the phone call.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP & Reuters)

Originally published on France24

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