KIEV, June 18 (RIA Novosti) – Ukrainian investigators believe the explosion on the Urengoi-Pomary-Uzhgorod gas pipeline in Ukraine was caused by an explosive device placed under a concrete block, Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arseniy Avakov said Wednesday.
“We suppose that an explosive device was placed at the base of the cement foundation of the pipeline, and later two short explosions occurred, then one large one,” Avakov said during a government session.
The explosion occurred at the intersection of four pipes and, according to the minister, was not accidental.
The Urengoi-Pomary-Uzhgorod pipeline, which pumps natural gas from Russia to Ukraine and further onward to export destinations all over Europe, from Slovakia to Italy, was hit by an explosion near the town of Lohvitsa on Tuesday. The State Emergency Service of Ukraine said the explosion was caused by a fracture in a pipe leading to a subsequent gas leak and fire.
Ukraine’s gas transmission company Ukrtransgas said the blast has not affected the flow of Russian natural gas to Europe.
Alarmed by the situation, Ukraine’s Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolev voiced the need to boost the security of the gas transport network in Ukraine.
The explosion came after Ukraine stopped receiving gas from Russia on Monday, except for the daily 185 million cubic meters intended for further transit to Europe, as Gazprom has followed through on its prepayment plan for gas deliveries to Ukraine’s Naftogaz due to the dispute over the company’s sizeable debt.