President Joe Biden on Friday called the Nord Stream pipeline a “deliberate act of sabotage” and accused Russia and President Vladimir Putin of “spreading disinformation and lies”, although he did not directly blame Moscow for the sabotage.
Biden said the US is working with allies to “get to the bottom of exactly what happened” and has already committed resources to help allies improve protection for the pipeline.
“Let me say this, it was a deliberate act of sabotage and now the Russians are spewing disinformation and lies,” Biden said, describing the incident as an act of sabotage for the first time.
“At the right time when things calm down, we’ll get divers down to find out exactly what happened,” he said. “We don’t know that yet.”
Biden insisted that what Putin says about the accident “is not true”.
Western nations have blamed the leaks on two Russian gas pipelines, Nord Stream 1 and 2, as the result of sabotage.
On Monday, leaks were discovered in the pipelines, prompting investigations by European authorities that determined powerful underwater explosions had occurred before the pipelines burst in several locations.
The pipelines were created to channel gas from Russia to the European Union, and were controversial long before Russia went to war with Ukraine, largely because of fears about Europe’s dependence on Russian energy.
Earlier on Friday, the US announced new sanctions, including export controls, visa restrictions and asset freezes, as part of an effort to further curtail Russian supply chains and the people who lead the effort, which are key to sustaining the war effort.
This story is breaking and will be updated.