The leaders of Germany and Norway will jointly ask NATO to coordinate the protection of Europe's subsea infrastructure in light of the suspected attacks on the Nord Stream gas pipeline network.
Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told a press briefing that involving NATO would send a signal to the outside world, according to Reuters news agency.
European countries have stepped up their vigilance around critical installations after the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which connect Russia to Germany, were ruptured in at least three places in September, leaking vast amounts of natural gas into the Baltic Sea.
Investigators found traces of explosives at the scene and suspect the pipelines were deliberately blown up.
The incident became a flashpoint in the energy standoff between the West and Moscow since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February.
Russia denies sabotaging the pipelines and has sought to blame The UK’s Royal Navy for the incident.
“We take the protection of our critical infrastructure very seriously and nobody should think that attacks would remain without consequences,” Scholz said.
“Pipelines, telephone cables, Internet connections are lifelines for our states and must be especially protected.”
Norway has played a crucial role in bringing gas to Europe after Russia reduced exports, and is now supplying around half of Germany’s needs, Scholz noted.
Store stressed that Norway is producing gas at full capacity, in response to the European energy crisis, and intends to continue doing so.
The Norwegian armed forces and European NATO allies have already outlined plans to “work out a co-ordinated” response to secure critical energy infrastructure offshore Norway.
"We have a particular responsibility to ensure secure supplies of gas to Europe, which is crucial to uphold," the Norwegian prime minister said.
In an emailed statement to Reuters, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he welcomed Germany and Norway's proposal.
“We have stepped up our efforts after the recent sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines, and it is vital to do even more to ensure that our offshore infrastructure remains safe from future destructive acts,” he said.
Speaking at the Berlin Security Conference on Wednesday evening, Scholz also said Germany wanted to tap into its €100 billion ($104 billion) special defence fund this year to buy F35 fighter jets and retrofit Puma infantry fighting vehicles.
He added that Russia could no longer win the war in Ukraine on the battlefield.