It doesn't look good, folks.
Russia's Nord Stream gas pipelines, which supply Europe with most of its natural gas, have sprung leaks after apparent explosions, leading to concern that the equipment might have been intentionally sabotaged as an escalation in Russia's Ukrainian conflict.
As the Wall Street Journal reports, the pipeline pair act as the main links for Russian natural gas between Europe and Germany — and by extension the rest of Western Europe — and have been at the center of the escalating Ukraine conflict, with Russian President Vladimir Putin appearing to use the pipelines and the much-needed energy they supply as leverage in the face of sanctions from the European Union.
European authorities are currently investigating the leaks, the WSJ notes, as leaders float the potential for sabotage.
In Poland, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki declared without citing evidence that the pipelines were intentionally damaged. The president of Denmark and — curiously — Russia itself also said sabotage could be the root cause of the problem.
The Swedish Maritime Administration (SMA) announced earlier on Tuesday that it had found a total of three gas leaks in Danish and Swedish waters near a small Baltic island, the WSJ reports. The agency warned sailors to keep a distance of five nautical miles or more away from the Swedish island, and also cautioned cautioned pilots to keep at least 1,000 meters over the site of the leaks.
Seismologists said that they detected two tremors in the area of the leaks early Monday morning, and have said that they don't believe they were of natural origin.
"We are pretty sure that the two events were blasts," Swedish National Seismic Network seismologist told the WSJ. "They are not earthquakes."
Though the pipelines were not running, gas prices rose five percent in the wake of the news, the WSJ notes — another example of how, regardless of the cause, this is a huge deal in an already-catastrophic situation in Europe.
READ MORE: Europe Investigates Unexplained Leaks in Nord Stream Gas Pipelines [The Wall Street Journal]
More on the Ukraine invasion: Russia Warns That Nuclear Plant It Captured May Leak Waste Over Europe