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Treaties signed for regions' accession

Updated: 2022-10-01 07:11

At incorporation ceremony, Putin accuses West of 'blasts' causing gas pipeline leaks

MOSCOW/STOCKHOLM — Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed treaties incorporating four regions into Russia amid widespread concerns of Nord Stream pipeline leaks.

At a ceremony in the Kremlin's opulent white-and-gold St George's Hall on Friday, Putin and the heads of the four regions put their names on treaties for them to join Russia.

The signing came three days after the completion of the referendums held in the four regions — Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia — on joining Russia.

Both houses of the parliament will meet next week to ratify the treaties for the regions to join Russia, sending them to Putin for his approval.

At the ceremony, Putin also directly accused the United States and its allies of blowing up the Nord Stream pipelines.

"The sanctions were not enough for the Anglo-Saxons: they moved onto sabotage," Putin said. "It is hard to believe but it is a fact that they organized the blasts on the Nord Stream international gas pipelines.

"They began to destroy the pan-European energy infrastructure," Putin said. "It is clear to everyone who benefits from this. Of course, he who benefits did it."

This statement comes as a fourth leak was detected on undersea pipelines linking Russia to Europe on Thursday.

The leak was discovered on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in Sweden's exclusive economic zone near a previously reported hole on Nord Stream 1.

The Swedish Coast Guard said the leak on Nord Stream 2 was discovered earlier in the week, but the first media reports about this only emerged on Wednesday evening.

The pipelines were constructed to transport natural gas from Russia to Germany, though neither was in use when the leaks were discovered.

On the ongoing investigations to determine the origin of the damage, Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service said on Friday that Moscow had material that indicated the West had a role in ruptures to the undersea pipelines, which have threatened to put them permanently out of use, Russian news agencies reported.

"We have material that points to a Western trace in the organization and implementation of these terrorist acts," Sergey Naryshkin, head of the agency, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.

Swedish Energy Minister Khashayar Farmanbar also said on Friday that the leaks are very likely the result of state action.

"It's very likely that it has been done deliberately and not by accident, and it's very unlikely it's been done by anybody else than a state without being detected earlier," Farmanbar told reporters before a meeting of European Union ministers in Brussels.

Earlier on Thursday, United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said it was still too soon to speculate who might have been behind the ruptures.

NATO declared the damage was the result of "deliberate, reckless and irresponsible acts of sabotage" and said it supported investigations to determine the origin of the damage.

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines have been at the center of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis.

Besides geopolitical tensions, scientists also warn against significant detrimental impacts on the climate from the gas leaks.

"From what I have seen, this is an unprecedented loss to the atmosphere of fossil methane in a very short time from a concentrated source," said Marcia McNutt, president of the US National Academy of Sciences.


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