French PM gives no credence to Russian Nord Stream claim UK involved

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said Saturday she gave no credence to Russian military accusations that Britain was involved in the explosions that damaged Russia's Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea in September.

A sign for the Nord Stream II pipeline in Lubmin,
A sign for the Nord Stream II pipeline in Lubmin, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Stefan Sauer

“There is an investigation underway and I give no credence to what was said this morning,” she told reporters on the sidelines of a trip to Lisbon, alongside her Portuguese counterpart Antonio Costa.

On Saturday, Russia’s defence ministry accused British naval staff of having blown up the Nord Stream gas pipelines last month. 

READ ALSO: Sweden and Denmark say Nord Stream blasts equal to ‘several hundred kilos of TNT’

Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom is the majority shareholder in Nord Stream AG, the company that owns and operates the pipelines.

The British defence ministry denied the claims and said the accusation was designed to take attention away from Russia’s “disastrous handling of the illegal invasion” of Ukraine.

“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,” Russia’s defence ministry said.

Four leaks emerged on the two Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea off the Danish island of Bornholm at the end of September with seismic institutes reporting they had recorded two underwater explosions prior to the leaks appearing.

While the leaks were in international waters, two of them were in the Danish exclusive economic zone and two of them in Sweden’s.

In early October, the Swedish prosecution authority announced that they had collected “pieces of evidence” during an underwater inspection of the leaks in the Swedish economic zone, which had backed up suspicions of sabotage.

And on Friday, Swedish prosecutors said they would conduct a new complementary crime scene investigation of the Nord Stream leaks, after the navy and the pipeline owner also began surveys this week.

READ ALSO: Germany opens probe of likely ‘blasts’ against Nord Stream

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Denmark opposes Russia athletes competing at Olympics under neutral flag

The Danish government said on Friday it opposed Russian athletes competing under a neutral flag at the 2024 Paris Olympics, which the International Olympic Committee is considering despite Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Denmark opposes Russia athletes competing at Olympics under neutral flag

Since the invasion in February 2022, Russians and Belarusians have been banned from most international sporting events.  Ukraine wants to keep it that way and ban Russian athletes from competing in the 2024 Summer Olympics.

But the IOC has said it is examining a “pathway” for Russians to take part in the summer Games, competing under a neutral flag.

“It is Denmark’s official position, and it is my position as a minister, that we must not waver in our relations with Russia,” Culture Minister Jakob Engel-Schmidt told Danish news agency Ritzau.

“Russia must be excluded from all international sport as long as their attack on Ukraine continues,” he added.

The minister stressed that “this also applies to Russian athletes competing under a neutral flag. It is completely incomprehensible that there seems to be doubt about holding to that in the IOC.”

While several countries, notably in eastern Europe, opposed the proposal, the United States said on Thursday it was in favour, as long as it was “absolutely clear” that the athletes were not representing the Russian or Belarusian states or their symbols.

The Danish and Norwegian Olympic committees had already said they were against the idea.

READ MORE: Danish government leaders meet with Zelensky in Mykolaiv