A FOURTH gas leak on the damaged Nord Stream pipelines has been discovered by the Swedish coast guard.
The suspected sabotage was a “premeditated act using underwater explosives” aiming to cripple Europe’s gas supply, a defence source has claimed.
It comes as German security services said three of four tubes have already been damaged beyond repair, with officials reckoning the £35billion project may never be fully operational again.
Coast guard spokesperson Jenny Larsson told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper: “Two of these four are in Sweden’s exclusive economic zone.”
The other two breaches are in the Danish exclusive economic zone.
The official added that the two leaks on the Swedish side are “close to each other”.
While neither pipeline was in use at the time of the suspected blasts, they were filled with gas that has been spewing out in the Baltic Sea since Monday’s ruptures.
Nel frattempo, a British defence source told Sky News the suspected acts of sabotage were likely carried out using underwater explosives detonated remotely.
The source said the mines could have been dropped over a boat or placed next to the pipelines with a drone, months or even years ago.
The European Union suspects sabotage was behind the gas leaks on the subsea Russian pipelines to Europe and has promised a “robust” response to any intentional disruption of its energy infrastructure.
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It comes amid fears the key gas network could have been sabotaged by Russia amid mounting tensions with Europe over the invasion of Ukraine.
The first leaks were detected on Monday following reports of explosions and a mini earthquake near the Danish island of Bornholm.
Dramatic video and pictures released by Denmark’s armed forces showed the sea bubbling with gas and white foam from the huge leak.
Swedish seismologist Bjorn Lund detected a blast with the force of 100kgs of TNT – and Norwegian monitoring group Norsar registered an earthquake of around magnitude 2.2.
Mr Lund said he had detected two explosions close to the pipeline on Monday, one at 2am and another at 7.04pm.
“There is no doubt that these were explosions,” Egli ha detto.
Twin 800-mile pipelines Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 can ferry 110billion cubic metres of gas annually from Russia into Western Europe.
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The gas flow has been shut in recent weeks sparking fears over massive shortages and price hikes.
Prices had already spiked by up to 12 per cent as Europe is bracing for a cold winter.