BORNHOLM, DENMARK – SEPTEMBER 27: Danish defense shows a gas leak from a Danish F-16 interceptor at Nord Stream 2 on September 27, 2022 in Bornholm, Denmark.

Danish Defence/ | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Spanish Energy Minister Teresa Ribera said on Thursday that the damage to the two subsea Nord Stream gas pipelines was a deliberate attack linked to the Russian government.

“It was a deliberate act and I think it can be linked to the Kremlin’s constant provocation pressure,” Ribera told reporters, according to Reuters.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC Thursday morning.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that claims that Russia was behind the suspected attack were “absurd”.

The cause of the gas leak is yet to be ascertained. Swedish police are currently investigating the leak and the European Union suspects sabotage, especially as the incident comes amid a bitter energy standoff between Brussels and Moscow.

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines connect Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea.

On Monday, seismologists reported an explosion in the vicinity of the unusual Nord Stream gas leak, which is located in international waters but within the exclusive economic zones of Denmark and Sweden.

The explosions released gas into the Baltic Sea. Denmark’s armed forces said video footage showed the largest gas leak forming a surface barrier about 1 kilometer (0.62 mi) in diameter, while the smallest leak formed a circle roughly 200 meters across.

“It was a deliberate act and I think it can be linked to the Kremlin’s continued provocation pressure,” Ribera told reporters on Thursday, according to Reuters.

Europa Press News | Europa Press | Getty Images

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned of “strong and concerted” retaliatory measures if evidence of deliberate interference emerged.

His comments were echoed by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who pledged the “strongest possible response” to deliberate disruption of active European energy infrastructure.

Interestingly, neither directly accused Russia of being responsible for the suspected attack.

Russian ships were seen around the leak

US news channel CNN reported on Thursday, citing three unnamed sources, that European security officials observed Russian naval support ships and submarines near the area of ​​the leak in the Nord Stream gas pipeline.

Asked to comment on the CNN report, the Kremlin’s Peskov said NATO had a heavy presence in the area.

The North Atlantic Council, the main political decision-making body of the Western military alliance NATO, said in a statement Thursday that “any deliberate attack on critical infrastructure of allies will be met with a concerted and resolute response.”

“All currently available information indicates that this is the result of deliberate, reckless and irresponsible sabotage. The spill is causing significant damage to shipping and the environment,” the council said.

Neither pipeline was pumping gas at the time of the leak but both lines were still under pressure: Nord Stream 1 stopped pumping gas to Europe “indefinitely” earlier this month, with Moscow’s operator saying international sanctions on Russia prevented it from carrying out critical maintenance work.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, meanwhile, never officially opened due to Germany’s refusal to certify it for commercial operations due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

— CNBC’s Holly Elliott contributed to this report.

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