US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday that it would be “in no one's interest” if attacks or acts of sabotage caused gas leaks detected in the Nord Stream gas pipelines amid an energy standoff between Europe and Russia over gas supplies.
Both Moscow and Western European capitals have expressed concern over the multiple leaks spewing gas into the sea, which occurred as Russia has slashed gas deliveries to Europe after the West imposed sanctions over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
While speaking at a press conference in Washington alongside India's Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Blinken said there are initial reports indicating the leaks may be a result of an attack or some kind of sabotage but haven't been confirmed yet.
The White House said the United States was ready to provide support to European partners conducting an investigation.
Blinken added that his understanding was the leaks would not have a significant impact on Europe's energy resilience and reiterated that Washington was working to address energy security for Europe in the short- and long-term.
Gas leaking from the damaged Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Baltic Sea will continue for several days, the head of Denmark's Energy Agency said on Tuesday.
The leaks in the two Russian pipelines were very large and it could take a week for gas to stop draining out of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, the head of the agency, Kristoffer Bottzauw said.
“A lot of gas is leaking out. It is perhaps several million cubic meters every hour. The pipes are being emptied but it will take several days before they are completely empty,” Bottzauw said, adding that ships could lose buoyancy if they entered the area.
Europe is investigating the leaks that spewed gas into the Baltic Sea as Sweden launched a preliminary probe into possible sabotage to infrastructure at the centre of an energy standoff.
But it remained far from clear who might be behind any foul play, if proven, on the Nord Stream pipelines that Russia and European partners spent billions of dollars building.
Seismologists in Denmark and Sweden registered powerful blasts in the vicinity of the leaks on Monday, Sweden's National Seismology Centre told public broadcaster SVT.
German geological research centre GFZ also said a seismograph on the Danish island of Bornholm had twice recorded spikes on Monday.
The Nord Stream pipelines have been flashpoints in an escalating energy war between capitals in Europe and Moscow that has damaged major Western economies, sent gas prices soaring and sparked a hunt for alternative supplies.
Denmark's armed forces and the Swedish Coast Guard on Tuesday released videos showing bubbles boiling up to the surface of the sea. The largest gas leak had caused a surface disturbance of well over 1 km (0.6 mile) in diameter, the armed forces said.
Sweden's Maritime Authority issued a warning about two leaks in the Nord Stream 1 pipeline the day after a leak on the nearby Nord Stream 2 pipeline was discovered that prompted Denmark to restrict shipping and impose a small no-fly zone.
Sweden's prime minister said on Tuesday that two blasts had been detected in relation to the leaks of the Nord Stream pipelines with information suggesting likely sabotage, though this did not represent an act of war against Sweden.
Magdalena Andersson told a news conference the Swedish government was in close contact with partners such as NATO and neighbours such as Denmark and Germany concerning the developments.
“We have Swedish intelligence, but we have also received information in our contacts with Denmark, and based on this concluded that this is probably a deliberate act. It is probably a matter of sabotage,” Andersson said.
“It is not a matter of an attack on Swedish or Danish territory. But that said, the government is taking what happened very seriously, not the least in light of the current security situation in our close proximity,” she added.
Europe was investigating major leaks in two Russian pipelines that spewed gas into the Baltic Sea near Sweden and Denmark on Tuesday as Sweden launched a preliminary probe into possible sabotage.
Poland's foreign minister Zbigniew Rau said Tuesday that the ‘Russian hybrid war’ could be the reason behind the Nord Stream pipeline leaks.
Speaking at an event for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C., Rau said an investigation should be launched into the matter, without excluding the possibility of sabotage.
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said the leaks of the Nord Stream pipelines were caused by sabotage, and warned of the “strongest possible response” should active European energy infrastructure be attacked.
Russia, which slashed gas deliveries to Europe after the West imposed sanctions over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, also said sabotage was a possibility and that the leaks undermined the continent's energy security.