In June, the military alliance experimented with unmanned submarines near the island of Bornholm
NATO conducted exercises with deep-sea equipment in the area where gas leaks in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines were discovered this week, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday. She added that the entire Baltic Sea is “packed” with the bloc’s military infrastructure.
Speaking at a regular press briefing on Thursday, Zakharova dismissed all accusations that Russia was behind the incident. “Can I ask you a question? When exactly did Russia decide to stop supplying energy to Europe?” she asked.
Zakharova said that NATO was engaged in military activities near the site where the leaks were found, noting that it could have been an interesting “opportunity” for the bloc.
“So, maybe the NATO bases never conducted exercises there, while American soldiers have never been stationed on the territory of neighboring countries?” she joked, adding that this summer “in the area of Bornholm, Denmark, NATO conducted exercises that used deep-sea equipment”.
Zakharova was apparently referring to Exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 22 in the Baltic Sea, which took place in June 2022 and were intended to demonstrate the military bloc’s “mine-hunting capabilities,” according to the US Navy statement at the time. In particular, they tried to experiment with unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) by placing them off the coast of Bornholm.
Zakharova called on Washington to give “an explanation” and “recognize” the truth, saying the US had left that job to Poland’s former foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, who previously “thanked” the US for destroying the pipeline.
Nato said on Thursday that the pipelines were damaged in what appeared to be “deliberate, reckless and irresponsible acts of sabotage”, and vowed to meet any attack on its critical infrastructure “with a united and decisive response”.
Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the Nord Stream leaks as a likely “terrorist act” that was unlikely to have been possible “without the involvement of any state power.”
On Monday, Denmark reported leaks from the pipelines after the operator reported a loss of pressure on both Nord Stream 1 and 2. Danish and Swedish authorities later said there had been a series of underwater explosions near Bornholm. A total of four gas leaks have been discovered in the Nord Stream system.