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NORD STREAM

International unit to probe pipeline blasts: Germany

Germany will form a joint investigation unit with Denmark and Sweden to probe the apparent "sabotage" against the underwater Nord Stream pipelines from Russia, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said Saturday.

Nord Stream gas leak in the Baltic Sea
One of the Nord Stream gas leaks in the Baltic Sea photographed from Coast Guard aircraft on September 22nd 2022. Germany is policing the North and Baltic Seas after explosions at the pipelines. Photo: Swedish Coast Guard

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had said Friday that Berlin would “support the joint investigation” of the incident with Denmark and Sweden, in a video call with counterparts from both countries.

Faeser told the weekly Bild am Sonntag newspaper that she had agreed with her fellow interior ministers that the work would be conducted by a “joint investigation team under EU law” with staff from the three countries.

“All indications point to an act of sabotage against the Nord Stream pipelines,” she was quoted as saying.

She added the team would bring in expertise from “the navy, police and intelligence services”.

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

Authorities are practicising “increased vigilance” to protect Germany’s energy infrastructure but said there were “no concrete threat indications for German sites — as of now”.

Faeser had told the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Friday that German police were patrolling the North and Baltic Seas with “all available forces” following the explosions, in cooperation with neighbouring countries.

The Nord Stream pipelines, where flows have been halted since the end of August, were key arteries for the delivery of natural gas directly from Russia to Germany.

The source of the explosions has remained a mystery, however, with both Moscow and Washington denying responsibility.

Norway, which has become Europe’s biggest supplier of natural gas, said earlier Friday it had accepted military contributions from France, Germany and Britain to secure its oil and gas sector.

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BREAKING

Sweden’s electricity price subsidy now postponed until February

Households and businesses will not receive any compensation for high power prices over the last year until February at the earliest, Swedish government ministers confirmed at a press conference on Wednesday.

Sweden's electricity price subsidy now postponed until February

During the election campaign, the Moderate, Christian Democrat, and Liberal parties made a common election promise to have a system of compensation “in place” by November 1st. 

“If we win the election and Sweden receives a new government, we are are going to make sure that high-cost protection against the current extreme electricity prices for households and businesses will be in place by November 1st,” they wrote. “Household finances will be rescued in good time for Christmas. That is a common election promise.” 

But at a press conference on Wednesday morning, social insurance minister Anna Tenje said that payments would not begin until well into 2023. 

“The payments will begin in February if nothing unexpected happens,” she said. 

For businesses, the wait could be even longer. 

“The first step will be payments to households. The second stage will be payments to businesses, and that question is still being decided,” energy and business minister Ebba Busch said. 

At a press conference, Magdalena Andersson, leader of the opposition Social Democrats accused Sweden’s prime minister of “lying to the Swedish people right in the face”. 

“When it comes to high cost protection for electricity, he was very clear ahead of the election that it would be in place on November 1st,” she said. “He couldn’t explain how, but it was a clear promise to the people of Sweden and that has now been broken. It’s not as if anything has happened to explain why he couldn’t live up to the promise.” 

“Don’t make lofty promises that aren’t trustworthy. That’s what I said during the election campaign.” she added.

The Social Democrats’ energy spokesperson, Fredrik Olovsson, said that the government should give a new instruction to the country’s grid operator Svenska Kraftnät, so that even people in northern Sweden could receive the subsidy. 

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