Amid suspicion that the unexplained leaks involving two critical pipelines were caused by sabotage, Germany is warning that there could be future attacks on critical energy infrastructure.
On Tuesday, German Energy Minister Robert Habeck said that although he didn’t want to speculate on the leaks in Nord Stream 1 and 2, which run from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea, other infrastructure, like nuclear plants, could be subject to attacks.
“Of course, critical infrastructure is a potential target. But we have known that not just since yesterday,” Habeck said at a press conference. “This has been the basis of the work for months. And security authorities, agencies, this ministry and also the operators, of course, are doing their part to protect themselves, to protect the infrastructure and to ensure a secure energy supply.”
Hours earlier, authorities in Germany, Denmark and Sweden announced they would be investigating the sudden drop in pressure in the two gas pipelines detected on Monday. The leak did not affect German’s current energy supply, according to Habeck.
Although neither Nord Stream 1 or 2 were active at the time, some officials have raised concern that Russia was behind the attack and warned that Moscow could be preying on Europe’s already-vulnerable energy grid out of retaliation.
“We do not know the details of what happened yet, but we can clearly see that it is an act of sabotage,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said. “An act that probably marks the next stage in the escalation of this situation in Ukraine.”
While the Kremlin’s spokesperson said that “no possibility can be ruled out” when it comes to the leaks, Russia has yet to directly respond to the accusations it is to blame.
Europe has been preparing for a harsh winter since it began weaning off of Russia’s energy supplies in response to the invasion of Ukraine. Russia began withholding the natural gas supplies that it had sent for decades after the European Union imposed economic sanctions for the war.
On Tuesday, Habeck announced that Germany will likely need to rely on two of three remaining nuclear plants to help stabilize the power grid and avoid the possibility of winter blackouts, due to concerns over the lack of nuclear power from France.
“We are already in a place where the stress test says: It may be necessary to use nuclear power plants for grid security,” Habeck said, adding that a final decision will be needed before December.
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