NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg took questions from reporters Friday, March 4, 2022.

NATO chief: ‘All evidence’ points to German pipeline sabotage, dodges question on Ukraine membership

NATO’s top official has stressed that the organization believes a major German oil and gas pipeline suffered damage as a result of sabotage, and any attack on NATO infrastructure will be met with a “firm” and “unified” response. 

“All evidence points again that this is sabotage deliberately done by someone against these pipelines,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “What is important now is that we support the ongoing investigation so we get the best possible picture of what happened and are able to establish all of the facts.” 

“The deliberate attack on a critical NATO infrastructure will be met with a firm and united response from NATO,” he added. 

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipeline systems, which funnel oil and gas from Russia to Germany, suffered unprecedented leaks last week. Three leaks recorded on the same day prompted accusations of sabotage, which Moscow officials acknowledged was a possibility.

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NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg took questions from reporters Friday, March 4, 2022.
(NATO)

“We can’t imagine a scenario that isn’t a targeted attack. Everything speaks against a coincidence,” a German government official told German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel. 

The Nord Stream 1 pipeline entirely shut down service in August when officials insisted that sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine made it impossible to maintain and repair the system. The Nord Stream 2 was never officially operational.

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The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the summer had warned counterparts in Berlin of a possible attack on the pipeline. 

Stoltenberg dismissed suggestions that Russia was trying to drag NATO into Ukraine war, stressing that NATO is “not part of this conflict.”

 The receiving station for the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipeline stands on July 11, 2022, near Lubmin, Germany.

 The receiving station for the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipeline stands on July 11, 2022, near Lubmin, Germany.
(Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

“[Putin] has tried again and again to to to tell a story that NATO is party to the conflict and that NATO caused this conflict,” Stoltenberg explained. “That’s absolutely wrong.”

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“First of all, this is a war that President Putin has started. It’s a war by by his choice. Second, NATO’s not part of this conflict,” he continued. “What we do is that we provide support to Ukraine, an independent, sovereign nation in Europe that has the right to defend itself against a war of aggression.”  

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meets Thursday with Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in Kyiv, Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meets Thursday with Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in Kyiv, Ukraine
(Office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy)

But Stoltenberg would not directly comment on the possibility of fast-tracking Ukraine’s membership into the organization. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday said his government had “accelerated” its application after proving to be a “compatible’ partner. 

Stoltenberg said that any decision on membership “has to be taken by consensus” and that the organization’s “top priority” is to support Ukraine. 

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They need more support today, they need continued support,” Stoltenberg said. “That’s the message I conveyed to presidents, and when I spoke to him a few days ago, and that’s the message from NATO leaders.” 

Fox News’ Anders Hagstrom and Caitlin McFall contributed to this report. 

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