Russia’s Ministry of Defence on Saturday claimed that UK Navy personnel were behind last month’s attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines, an allegation that the UK government said was false and designed to distract from Moscow’s military failures in Ukraine.
Russia did not give evidence for its claim that a leading NATO member had sabotaged critical Russian infrastructure amid the worst crisis in relations between the West and Russia since the depths of the Cold War, reported Reuters.
“According to available information, representatives of this unit of the British Navy took part in the planning, provision and implementation of a terrorist attack in the Baltic Sea on 26 September this year — blowing up the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines,” the ministry said.
The UK has denied the claim.
“To detract from their disastrous handling of the illegal invasion of Ukraine, the Russian Ministry of Defence is resorting to peddling false claims of an epic scale,” the UK government said.
“This invented story, says more about arguments going on inside the Russian government than it does about the West.”
The Russian ministry also alleged that “British specialists” from the same unit directed Ukrainian drone attacks on ships of Russian Black Sea fleet in Crimea earlier on Saturday that it said were largely repelled by Russian forces, with minor damage to a Russian minesweeper.
Russia has already blamed the West for last month’s sabotage of the Russian-built Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines, critical infrastructure built to deliver Russian gas to Europe.
However, this is understood to be the first time that Moscow has laid the blame for the attacks firmly at one nation’s feet.
Reuters added it has not been able to immediately verify any of the conflicting claims about who was to blame for the damage to the subsea gas pipelines.
Denmark and Sweden earlier said that the leaks were caused by explosions and Sweden has ordered additional investigations to be carried out into the damage done to the pipelines, the prosecutor in charge of the case said in a statement on Friday.
The Kremlin has repeatedly said allegations of Russian responsibility for the damage were "stupid" and Russian officials have said Washington had a motive as it wants to sell more liquefied natural gas to Europe.
The US has denied involvement.
The Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines have combined capacity of 110 billion cubic metres per annum of gas — more than half of Russia’s typical export volumes.
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