The Royal Navy has dispatched a warship to help guard gas supplies after a suspected Russian attack on a pipeline.
The move comes after a series of explosions in the Nord Stream pipelines feared were ordered by Vladimir Putin.
The 800-mile-long Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 twin pipelines can transport 110 billion cubic meters of gas annually from Russia through the Baltic Sea to Western Europe.
Prices are already up as much as 12 percent after the apparent sabotage, fueling fears the continent is facing a cold and bleak winter.
A Royal Navy frigate, reportedly HMS Somerset, has now been dispatched to work alongside the Norwegian Navy to guard gas pipelines running under the North Sea, the Ministry of Defense said.
It comes after Defense Secretary Ben Wallace attended a crisis meeting of northern European nations on Monday to discuss coordinating security measures, including an increased maritime presence.
“The group condemned the blatant attacks on civilian infrastructure,” the Department of Defense said on Twitter.
“A Royal Navy frigate is in the North Sea and is working with the Norwegian Navy to reassure those working near the gas pipelines.”
Prime Minister Liz Truss said the series of explosions that caused extensive damage to the pipelines was “clearly an act of sabotage”.
Ahead of his meeting with colleagues in the joint expeditionary force, Mr Wallace warned that Russia was making “no secret” about its ability to attack underwater infrastructure.
Speaking at the Conservative Party conference, the defense secretary said “the Nordic countries and ourselves are deeply vulnerable to people doing things to our cables and pipelines”.
The “mysterious” damage inflicted on the Nord Stream pipelines should be a reminder of how “fragile” Britain’s economy and infrastructure are in the face of “hybrid attacks”, Mr Wallace said.
He announced that the government would acquire “two special ships”.
These would be able to patrol and protect the UK’s “internet and energy” which “depends heavily on pipelines and cables”.
The joint expeditionary force consists of Great Britain, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
According to the MoD, at the meeting ministers discussed increasing joint intelligence gathering and working together to secure critical infrastructure.
“At this time of heightened concern for all like-minded partner nations, it is right that we act with speed, agility and collective determination to actively demonstrate our shared commitment to each other’s security,” said Mr. Wallace.
Last Monday, two underwater explosions were discovered alongside a mini-earthquake.
German security services reportedly believe the damage has rendered the pipeline “permanently unusable” – three out of four tubes are so badly damaged that they are now beyond repair.
The size of the holes in the pipes allow large amounts of corrosive salt water to flow inside – further damaging them.
German government officials believe the complexity and scale of the attack could only be carried out by a “state actor”.
Russia steadily reduced Nord Stream 1 flows this year before halting them altogether in late August, blaming technical difficulties that led to sanctions.
But Putin has previously been accused of arming the energy crisis to put pressure on the West.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6359739/royal-navy-warship-guard-gas-attack-nord-stream/ Royal Navy sends warship to guard gas supplies after attack on Nord Stream pipelines ‘on orders from Putin’