In June, the military alliance experimented with unmanned subs near the island of Bornholm
NATO conducted exercises using deep-sea equipment in the area where gas leaks in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines were detected this week, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova said on Thursday. She added that the entire Baltic Sea is "packed full" of the bloc's military infrastructure.
Speaking at a regular press briefing on Thursday, Zakharova dismissed any allegations that Russia was behind the incident. "May I ask you a question? When exactly did Russia decide it wanted to stop supplying energy to Europe?" she asked.
Zakharova said NATO was engaged in military activities close to the location where the leaks were found, noting that it might have presented an interesting "opportunity" for the bloc.
"So, maybe the NATO bases never conducted exercises there, while American soldiers have never been stationed on the territory of nearby countries?" she quipped, adding that this summer "in the area of Bornholm, Denmark, NATO conducted exercises that used deep-sea equipment".
Zakharova was apparently referring to Exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 22 in the Baltic Sea, which took place in June 2022 and were meant to demonstrate the military bloc's "mine hunting capabilities," according to the statement by the US Navy at the time. In particular it sought to experiment with Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUV) by deploying them off the coast of Bornholm island.
Zakharova urged Washington to offer "an explanation" and "confess" to the truth, saying that the US had left that job to Poland's former foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, who earlier "thanked" the US for destroying the pipeline.
NATO said Thursday that the pipelines were damaged in what appeared to be a "deliberate, reckless, and irresponsible acts of sabotage," promising to meet any attack on its critical infrastructure "with a united and determined response."
Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the Nord Stream leaks as a probable "terrorist act" which is unlikely to have been possible "without the involvement of some state power."
On Monday, Denmark reported leaks from the pipelines after the operator reported a loss of pressure on both Nord Stream 1 and 2. Danish and Swedish authorities later said there had been a series of undersea explosions near Bornholm. In total, there have been four gas leaks detected in the Nord Stream system.