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'Peddling false claims': UK slams Russia for accusing Royal Navy of blowing up Nord Stream pipeline
29 October 2022, 16:16 | Updated: 29 October 2022, 16:26
The Royal Navy has hit out at Russian claims that British ships blew up the Nord Stream pipelines, accusing Kremlin propagandists of "peddling false claims on an epic scale".
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Russia's defence ministry said on Saturday that a unit of the Royal Navy was responsible for the damage the major pipelines delivering gas from Russia to Europe suffered in September, which made them unusable.
A spokesperson said: "According to available information, representatives of this unit of the British Navy took part in the planning, provision and implementation of a terrorist attack in the Baltic Sea on September 26 this year - blowing up the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines."
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Russia added that it would ask for a reaction from the UN Security Council over its claims.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on social media that there had been "a series of terrorist attacks committed against the Russian Federation in the Black and Baltic Seas, including the involvement of Britain in them".
The British government hit back strongly against the allegations, accusing Russia of "peddling false claims".
"To detract from their disastrous handling of the illegal invasion of Ukraine, the Russian Ministry of Defence is resorting to peddling false claims of an epic scale," a ministry of defence spokesperson said.
"This invented story, says more about arguments going on inside the Russian government than it does about the West."
Defence secretary Ben Wallace also said that two new Royal Navy ships will patrol the North Sea to protect internet infrastructure in the area from any Russian threats.
Various commentators have previously speculated that Russia or NATO could have sabotaged the pipelines, which suffered four ruptures in late September. Russian ships were reportedly seen around the pipeline in the lead up to the explosions.
But the Kremlin has also previously accused the US of taking part in the sabotage - a claim that Washington has denied.
Russia has also labelled allegations that its ships blew up the pipelines, which were majority Russian-owned and had a joint capacity of 110 billion cubic metres of gas, as "absurd".
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov rejected any suggestion that Russia could be responsible. He told reporters: ‘It’s quite predictable and also predictably stupid to give voice to these kinds of narrative."
The pipelines, which link Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea had not been operating since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February this year, but were full of natural gas.
German, Danish and Swedish police are all investigating the cause of the leaks, but have not come to any conclusions yet.