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Blast Damages Russia-Ukraine Gas Pipeline: How Did This Happen?

Putin at St Petersburg International Economic Forum plenary session. Photo: TASS
Putin at St Petersburg International Economic Forum plenary session. Photo: TASS

Blast Damages Russia-Ukraine Gas Pipeline: Russia’s TASS news agency revealed on Tuesday how three people died following a gas pipeline explosion in central Russia. The explosion damaged a key gas pipeline that transports gas from Russia’s arctic region to Europe, passing through Ukraine on the way.

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According to local officials, the flow of gas passing through the Urengoi-Pomary-Uzhhorod pipeline was cut off as of 1:50pm local time.

According to TASS, local emergency workers confirmed the death of three pipeline workers.

One person was also injured when the explosion occurred during scheduled maintenance work located near the village of Kalinino and roughly 50km from the regional capital of Cheboksary.

The explosion does not appear to be a deliberate attack, with local authorities claiming that the explosion occurred as a result of a leak. However, some online analysts have speculated that the incident could be the result of a deliberate attack largely because of concerns that Russia could weaponize gas supplies to Europe over military aid supplied to Ukraine.

“A leak with the subsequent fire that erupted at the underground gas pipeline occurred near Yambakhtino village. The operator was performing service duties there prior to the outbreak of the blaze,” TASS reports.

The pipeline, which was constructed in the 1980s, delivers gas via the Sudzha metering point which is currently the primary route for all Russian gas destined for Europe. On Tuesday, Russia’s majority state-owned energy company announced that 43 million cubic meters of gas were expected to be delivered to Europe via Sudzha over the next 24 hours.

See the Explosion

Photographs and video footage showing the scale of the explosion were shared on social media, with local residents watching in horror from their homes. A huge fireball can be seen only meters away from homes and local infrastructure.

Video footage from further away offers another perspective of the fire.

Local people described how a loud noise could be heard for miles around before the blast occurred, leading some to believe that a plane crash had taken place.

Villagers also told the Kommersant newspaper that they could not return to their homes because the temperature had become “so high” as a result of the blast.

The fire has since been extinguished.

Gazprom Play Down Explosion Impact

Following the explosion, Gazprom issued a statement describing how gas was already being supplied via parallel pipelines. The news means that the explosion is unlikely to cause any major disruption in supplies to Europe.

“The damaged section of the gas pipeline was promptly localised. Gas is being transported to consumers in full through parallel gas pipelines,” a statement from Gazprom reads.

Chuvashia regional governor Oleg Nikolayev also told Russian state television that local authorities are working on providing a timeline for when gas supplies are expected to continue passing through the damaged section.

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Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor.

Written By

Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive's Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.