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UK denies its navy blew up Russia’s Nord Stream pipelines

Russia's President Vladimir Putin. (Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS/Abaca Press/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Britain on October 29 denied a Russian Defense Ministry claim that British Navy personnel blew up the Nord Stream gas pipelines last month, saying the accusation is the latest “invented story” put out by Moscow.

Britain’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that Russia’s accusation was designed to “detract from their disastrous handling of the illegal invasion of Ukraine.”

The Russian Defense Ministry “is resorting to peddling false claims of an epic scale,” the statement added. “This invented story, says more about the arguments going on inside the Russian Government than it does about the west.”

Russia has previously said the leaks appeared to be the result of state-sponsored “terrorism” and blamed the West for the explosions in September, which ruptured the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines on the bed of the Baltic Sea built to deliver Russian natural gas to Germany.

Sweden and Denmark have both concluded that four leaks on Nord Stream 1 and 2 were caused by explosions but have not said who might be responsible. NATO and several European countries suspect Russia carried out the sabotage.

The Kremlin has repeatedly said allegations of Russian responsibility for the damage were “stupid,” and Russian officials have pointed the finger at Washington, saying it had a motive as it wants to sell more liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe. The United States has denied involvement.

The Russian Defense Ministry’s statement said that “representatives of a unit of the British Navy took part in the planning, provision, and implementation of a terrorist attack in the Baltic Sea on September 26 this year — blowing up the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines.”

Russia did not give evidence for its claim but described the saboteurs as “British specialists,” saying they belonged to the same unit that directed Ukrainian drone attacks on October 29 on ships of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Crimea.

The Russian Army accused Ukraine of conducting the “massive” drone attack earlier on October 29. It said the ships that were affected are involved in guaranteeing the safety of grain shipments from three Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea under an international deal reached in July.

“The preparation of this terrorist act and the training of servicemen of the Ukrainian 73rd Special Center for Naval Operations were carried out under the guidance of British specialists located in the town of Ochakiv,” the ministry said.

The Russian Army claimed to have destroyed nine drones and seven maritime ones in the attack in the occupied port of Sevastopol, headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

“As a result of the operational measures taken by the ships of the Black Sea Fleet, all the air drones were destroyed, though minor damage was done to the minesweeper Ivan Golubets,” the ministry said.

Mikhail Razvozhayev, the Moscow-installed administrator of Sevastopol, said the drone attack was the “most massive” the peninsula had seen.

The city’s services were on alert, but no civilian infrastructure had been damaged, he said.

The Ukrainian military command has not commented on the Russian statements regarding the alleged attack.