VLADIMIR Putin is feared to have sabotaged the Nord Stream pipelines – sending gas prices soaring in Europe.
Russia is the prime suspect as three holes appeared in the two tubes which run beneath the Baltic Sea.
Both pipes appear to have been hit by sabotage while they remain at the centre of the energy row between the West & Moscow.
The near 800mile pipelines can ferry 110billion cubic metres of gas annually from Russia down to Europe.
Horror video released by Denmark’s armed forces shows the sea bubbling with gas and white foam from the huge leak.
And while the apparent sabotage won’t immediately impact supply, it has sent prices soaring by up to 12 per cent, reports Bloomberg.
Ships and airplanes have been told to stay way with an exclusion zone of five nautical miles and 1,000 metres altitude set up around the leaks due fears of a disastrous explosion.
Danish warship HDMS Absalon – a 6,300 frigate armed with missiles and a 5 inch naval gun – has been deployed to enforce the exclusion zone.
Germany and Denmark reportedly both are considering sabotage likely, with Copenhagen admitting there is a “really big hole”.
Danish F-16 fighter planes spotted the leak after realising the “sea was bubbling” as pressure in the pipeline dropped rapidly on Monday.
Europe is already braced for a bleak winter as gas becomes a key pawn in Putin’s clash on the West.
The pipelines have suffered “unprecedented” damage from ” targeted attack”, reports media in Europe.
German federal investigators fear special forces using a submarine could have been used to damage Nord Stream, reports Tagesspiegel.
The source said: “Everything speaks against a coincidence […]our imagination no longer produces a scenario that is not a targeted attack.”
And magazine Spiegel quoted government sources who said officials fear its deliberate sabotage to destabilise the energy markets.
Russia has described the attack on the pipelines as “very concerning news”.
Putin’s personal spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “This is an issue related to the energy security of the entire continent.”
And when asked about sabotage, Vlad’s mouthpiece replied: “No option can be ruled out right now.”
It’s an act of sabotage, related to the next step of escalation of the situation in Ukraine
European gas prices rose for first time after falling for the last four days – sparking hopes at some easing of the looming energy crisis.
Rolling blackouts, four day weeks, and normal people being unable to afford to heat their homes are just some of the consequences feared to sweep across the continent as temperatures plunge.
Energy has become a tug of war between the West and Russia as Putin’s tyrannical regime is sanctioned and isolated due to their savage war in Ukraine.
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the Nord Stream leaks were caused by sabotage.
“We faced an act of sabotage, we don’t know all the details of what happened, but we see clearly that it’s an act of sabotage, related to the next step of escalation of the situation in Ukraine,” he said.
His statement all but accused Russia of being behind the damage to the pipeline.
Deputy foreign minister Marcin Przydacz: “Sadly our eastern partner is constantly pursuing an aggressive political course.
“If it is capable of an aggressive military course in Ukraine, then it’s apparent that acts of provocations in western Europe also cannot be ruled out.”
Gas prices were already high before the Ukraine war as demand soared after the lifting of Covid restrictions.
But prices skyrocketed after the invasion as Russia is one of the world’s biggest producers.
Continental Europe is heavily reliant in Russian gas imports, leading to fears of winter blackouts, rationing and factory closures in Germany.
Only a tiny fraction of Britain’s gas comes directly from Russia.
But the UK relies more on gas for generating electricity than European neighbours because it has less nuclear and renewable energy.
Britain also has little storage capacity, forcing energy firms to buy gas on the highly volatile short-term spot market.
Even the abundant North Sea gas is sold to the UK based on international market prices.
Domestic gas and electricity bills were due to soar to an average £3,549 from October 1
The eye-watering 80 per cent rise will hit 24million households.
But new Prime Minister Liz Truss is expected to announce a wide-ranging energy plan next Friday to help Brits.
Energy bills have rocketed 35 times faster than wages, fuelling inflation and the cost of living crisis.
Economists say most of the painful price increases are due to the war in Ukraine and Putin holding the West to ransom.
Russia has been accused of deliberately burning off natural gas at an astonishing scale – as much as £8.7million daily according to satellite pictures.