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Royal Navy sends frigate to North Sea after Nord Stream ‘sabotage’

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 03/10/2022 Josie Ensor
The Navy said a frigate – likely to be the HMS Somerset – is in the area and working with Norwegian forces - GETTY IMAGES © GETTY IMAGES The Navy said a frigate – likely to be the HMS Somerset – is in the area and working with Norwegian forces - GETTY IMAGES

A Royal Navy frigate was on Monday night sent to the North Sea in a show of force after a suspected Russian attack on the Nord Stream pipeline.

The Ministry of Defence said it was looking to reassure partners after the pipelines in the Nord Stream network burst in an act of suspected sabotage near Swedish and Danish waters.

The ministry said a Royal Navy frigate was in the area and working with the Norwegian navy.

The frigate was most likely to be the Type 23 HMS Somerset, which was days ago taking part in training with Norwegian sailors in Stavanger.

The two major lines, which were built to deliver natural gas from Russia to Germany, ruptured in three separate places last week after explosions under the Baltic Sea.

Moscow, whose state-controlled energy company, Gazprom, is the main owner of the pipelines, denied responsibility, saying the US had more to gain from the damage.

The Swedish coast guard, which sent a diving vessel, said Nord Stream 1 had stopped leaking, but an overflight suggested gas was still draining out of Nord Stream 2 and bubbling to the surface over a 30-metre radius.

The Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), which includes Britain, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, on Monday called it “reckless sabotage in the Baltic Sea”.

“It is discussing security responses, including increased maritime presence and Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance activities to deter further such acts,” read a statement from the MoD.

“In this period of heightened concern for all like-minded partner nations, it is right that we act with speed, agility and collective resolve to actively demonstrate our shared commitment to mutual security,” said Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary.

Nord Stream has been a flashpoint in the energy standoff between the West and Moscow that has pummelled Western economies and fuelled a cost-of-living crisis.

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Russia steadily reduced gas flows via Nord Stream 1 this year before halting them altogether at the end of August, blaming technical difficulties caused by Western sanctions. European countries said Moscow was using energy as a weapon.

Jolted by the Nord Stream ruptures, European countries have started strengthening security and surveillance around critical infrastructure that could be vulnerable to attack.

Norway, Europe's main gas supplier and a major oil exporter, said it had deployed soldiers to guard major onshore oil and gas processing plants.

Italy has strengthened surveillance and controls on underwater energy and telecommunications cables, a source told Reuters.

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