NATO’s top official has stressed that the organization believes a major German oil and gas pipeline has been damaged by sabotage and that any attack on NATO infrastructure will be met with a “firm” and “unified” response.
“All the evidence again points to this being a sabotage being carried out knowingly by someone against these pipelines,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said during an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday. “It is now important that we support the ongoing investigations so that we can get the best possible picture of what is happening and clarify all the facts.”
“The deliberate attack on critical NATO infrastructure will be met with a determined and unified NATO response,” he added.
The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipeline systems, which carry oil and gas from Russia to Germany, suffered unprecedented leaks last week. Three leaks registered on the same day led to allegations of sabotage, which Moscow officials have acknowledged as possible.
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Danish officials said the Nord Stream 1 leak has stopped.
NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg answered reporters’ questions on Friday, March 4, 2022. (NATO)
“We cannot think of a scenario that is not a targeted attack. Everything speaks against a coincidence,” a German government official told the Tagesspiegel.
The Nord Stream 1 pipeline shut down entirely in August, when officials insisted sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine made it impossible to maintain and repair the system. Nord Stream 2 was never officially operational.
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In the summer, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) warned colleagues in Berlin of a possible attack on the pipeline.
Stoltenberg dismissed suggestions that Russia was trying to drag NATO into a war in Ukraine, stressing that NATO was “not part of this conflict”.
The receiving station of the natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 1 stands on July 11, 2022 near Lubmin, Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
“[Putin] has repeatedly tried to tell a story that NATO is a party to the conflict and that NATO caused this conflict,” Stoltenberg said. “That is absolutely wrong.”
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“First, this is a war that President Putin started. It’s a war of his choice. Second, NATO is not part of this conflict,” he continued. “What we are doing is supporting Ukraine, an independent, sovereign nation in Europe that has the right to defend itself against a war of aggression.”
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy meets with Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Lindsey Graham, RS.C., Thursday in Kyiv, Ukraine (Office of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy).
But Stoltenberg did not want to comment directly on the possibility of accelerating Ukraine’s membership in the organization. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Friday that his government had “accelerated” its request after proving to be a “compatible” partner.
Stoltenberg said that any membership decision “must be made by consensus” and that the organization’s “top priority” is to support Ukraine.
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“They need more support today, they need continued support,” Stoltenberg said. “That’s the message I gave to the President and when I spoke to him a few days ago, and that’s the message from NATO leaders.”
Fox News’ Anders Hagstrom and Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.
Peter Aitken is a reporter at Fox News Digital specializing in national and global news.