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The European Union’s top diplomat suspects that damage to two underwater Nord Stream natural gas pipelines was sabotage and warned of retaliation for any attack on Europe’s energy networks.

In a statement on behalf of all 27 member states, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said: “All available information indicates those leaks are the result of a deliberate act.

“Any deliberate disruption of European energy infrastructure is utterly unacceptable and will be met with a robust and united response.”

Russia has ‘opened new Baltic front to war’ – Ukraine latest

Seismologists reported on Tuesday that explosions rattled the Baltic Sea before unusual leaks were discovered on two underwater natural gas pipelines running from Russia to Germany.

Russia has denied being behind any attack on the pipeline.

The three leaks were reported on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which are filled with natural gas.

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While they are not currently delivering the fuel to Europe, the damage means the pipelines are unlikely to be able to carry any gas to Europe this winter even if the political will to bring them online emerged, according to analysts.

Mr Borrell said the EU will support any investigation into the damage, and “will take further steps to increase our resilience in energy security”.

Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish prime minister, has called the damage an “act of sabotage”, while his Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen said she views the leaks as “deliberate actions”,

The Danish energy authority said any event like this was “extremely rare”.

Denmark’s defence minister Morten Bodskov said: “There is reason to be concerned about the security situation in the Baltic Sea region.

“Despite the war efforts in Ukraine, Russia has a significant military presence in the Baltic Sea region and we expect them to continue their sabre-rattling.”

While it remains unknown who might be responsible for the damage, given its undersea location, Polish foreign minister Zbigniew Rau said on Tuesday that the leaks could be part of Russia’s hybrid war on NATO.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said allegations that Russia could be behind the incidents were “predictable and stupid”.

He told reporters in a conference call that the damage has caused Russia huge economic losses.

Professor Joan Cordiner, professor of process engineering at the University of Sheffield, said: “Pipes don’t just leak catastrophically suddenly.

“Typically normal leaks due to corrosion start small and build up over time. Therefore such a sudden large leak can only have come from a sudden blow cutting the pipe.”

Analysis: Pipeline attacks mean Ukrainian war is ‘now going to the Baltic’

Professor Michael Clarke, a security and defence analyst, told Sky News leaks in the Nord Stream gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea were caused by “three explosions near the seabed”.

He added it is “clearly an act of sabotage”, as you need a submarine to cause such chaos underwater.

“This is not some casual terrorist act, it has to be a government. The only government who could really gain from that, in a peculiar way, is Russia – none of the European governments would want to do it.”

His comments come after Denmark said “deliberate actions” caused such leaks in the pipelines, which run under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.

“Privately, everyone is convinced this is a Kremlin-inspired piece of sabotage,” Professor Clarke said.

“This is a strategic own goal because although it increases the sense of isolation that there will be no Russian gas for Europe this winter, it actually destroys Russia’s credibility completely with European customers for the next couple of generations.”

Asked why they would do it, Professor Clarke said his guess is that the Russians wanted to “create insecurity that there may be more of this”.

“It opens up a new front in the war. It means the Ukrainian war is now going to the Baltic.”

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Sydney stabbings attack: Hundreds of mourners gather at candlelight vigil

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Sydney stabbings attack: Hundreds of mourners gather at candlelight vigil

Mourners gathered to pay tribute to the six killed in a stabbing at an Australian shopping mall.

New South Wales Police identified the man behind the attack at the Westfield Shopping Centre in Bondi Junction on 13 April as Joel Cauchi, 40.

He was shot and killed by an officer after fatally stabbing six people – five women and one man – and injuring several others, including a nine-month-old baby.

Eight days after the attack, hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil on Bondi Beach in Sydney, where Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese paid respects to those killed.

Anthony Albanese addresses a candlelight vigil at Sydney's Bondi Beach. Pic: AP
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.Pic: AP

Pic: AP
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Pic: AP

Mr Albanese said the gathering was “to grieve for all that has been stolen from us”.

“All that has been stolen from us, all the possibility and potential, all the kindness and humanity, all the love and laughter of the six lives snatched away,” the prime minister added.

“To honour all they were and respect all they meant, all the years of joy they should have known, all the memories they should have a chance to make.”

Pic: AP
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Pic: AP

Mourners hold candles at a vigil for victims of the Bondi shopping mall stabbing. Pic: AP
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Pic: AP

After Mr Albanese’s speech, the crowd took part in a minute’s silence before New South Wales (NSW) premier Chris Minns said “this week we saw a single bouquet left on Oxford Street grow into a sea of flowers”.

He also said the vigil would be an opportunity to “stand by those that have lost loved ones and remember those that have been killed.”

Amy Scott, the NSW police officer who killed Cauchi, was in attendance in the vigil.

Amy Scott, who shot and killed the Sydney stabbing attacker, at the vigil. Pic: Reuters
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Pic: Reuters

Amy Scott at the Community Candlelight Vigil with other police officers. Pic: Reuters
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Pic: Reuters

Five of the six killed were women, and authorities previously said they are looking into the possibility that Cauchi targeted women in the attack.

NSW officials named the victims as Ashlee Good, 38, Dawn Singleton, 25, Jade Young, 47, Pikria Darchia, 55, Cheng Yixuan, 25 and on-duty Westfield security guard Faraz Tahir, 30.

Read more from Sky News:
‘A very sick boy’: Attacker’s parents apologise
Thousands in Canary Islands call for limit on tourism

(Clockwise) Yixuan Cheng, Dawn Singleton, Ashlee Good, Faraz Tahir, Pikria Darchia and  Jade Young
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(Clockwise) Yixuan Cheng, Dawn Singleton, Ashlee Good, Faraz Tahir, Pikria Darchia and Jade Young

Ms Good tried to save her nine-month-old baby Harriet when she was attacked by the 40-year-old – who suffered from schizophrenia.

She was said to have passed her baby to two men after she was badly injured.

It comes after NSW health minister Ryan Park shared on Sunday evening that the baby has been released from hospital.

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“I can confirm the child who has been receiving care at Sydney Children’s Hospital following last weekend’s tragic events at Bondi Junction has been discharged home,” he said in a statement.

“She continues to receive care from the expert clinicians at Sydney Children’s Hospital.”

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Crucial $60.8bn Ukraine aid package approved by US House of Representatives after months of deadlock

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Crucial .8bn Ukraine aid package approved by US House of Representatives after months of deadlock

The US House of Representatives has approved sending $60.8bn (£49bn) in foreign aid to Ukraine.

Democrats and Republicans joined together after months of deadlock over renewed American support to help Ukraine fend off Russia’s invasion.

Representatives could be seen waving small Ukrainian flags as it became clear the package was going to pass.

Representatives wave Ukrainian flags
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Representatives wave Ukrainian flags

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted to say he was “grateful” for the decision, which he said “keeps history on the right track”.

He said: “Democracy and freedom will always have global significance and will never fail as long as America helps to protect it.

“The vital US aid bill passed today by the House will keep the war from expanding, save thousands and thousands of lives, and help both of our nations to become stronger.”

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‘Grateful’ Zelenskyy reacts to US aid

Representatives also approved bills to send foreign aid to Israel and provide humanitarian relief to Palestinians in Gaza, give security assistance to Taiwan and allies in the Indo-Pacific, and a measure containing several foreign policy proposals including a threat to ban Chinese-owned social media app TikTok.

The package will now go to the US Senate, where it is likely to be passed on Tuesday. President Joe Biden has then promised to sign it immediately.

“I urge the Senate to quickly send this package to my desk so that I can sign it into law and we can quickly send weapons and equipment to Ukraine to meet their urgent battlefield needs,” Mr Biden said.

What aid package means for Ukraine after profound impact of delay

The impact of this American blockage has been profound.

I have had multiple conversations with diplomats and military officials in Washington DC and all have said the same thing: the situation for Ukraine is depressing, Russia has the upper hand and prospects for Kyiv, without more weapons, are bleak.

The Ukrainians have been running low on all weapons types, even small arms – bullets for their soldiers’ rifles.

Before the House of Representatives approved the $60.8bn aid package on Saturday, it had been more than 480 days since Congress last passed a bill allowing for American weapons to be sent to Ukraine.

There was a White House budgetary fudge earlier this year which freed up some more cash from an existing bill and allowed for some more weapons to be sent. But it wasn’t enough.

Read more of Mark Stone’s analysis here.

Bill will ‘further ruin’ Ukraine, Russia warns

Moscow said the passage of the bill would “further ruin” Ukraine and result in more deaths.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the TASS news agency a provision allowing Washington to confiscate seized Russian assets and transfer them to Ukraine for reconstruction would tarnish the image of the US.

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Major Russian strike on Ukraine kills eight

‘Ukraine can and will win’

UK Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron said the funding was “a vital step forward”.

“If Putin ever doubted the West’s resolve to back Ukraine, this shows our collective will is undimmed,” he tweeted.

“With support, Ukraine can and will win.”

But Donald Trump ally Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican representative who has opposed helping Ukraine in its war against Russia, said “people have been too obsessed with voting for foreign wars and the war industry”.

Speaking after the vote passed, she said: “This is the sellout of America today. When we had members of Congress in there waving the Ukrainian flag on the United States House of Representatives floor, while we’re doing nothing to secure our border, I think every American is going to be furious.”

Mr Biden first requested the funding in October, as Ukraine’s military supplies began to dwindle.

In February, Mr Zelenskyy urged Congress to pass the funding, saying if it did not “it will leave me wondering what world we are living in”.

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Iran foreign minister downplays Israeli attack and says drones used ‘like children’s toys’

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Iran foreign minister downplays Israeli attack and says drones used 'like children's toys'

Iran has said Israeli involvement in Friday’s attack is still to be established and dismissed the drones used as like children’s toys.

Foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian claimed they took off from within Iran and only flew a few hundred metres before being shot down.

Israel hasn’t commented but is widely believed to be behind the strike targeting an airbase and nuclear site near Isfahan.

Middle East latest: Worshippers in Tehran chant ‘death to Israel’

The US told a G7 meeting that Israel had told it about the attack “at the last minute”.

Israel had been weighing up how to respond to Iran’s unprecedented drone and missile attack on Israel last weekend – with Western powers urging restraint.

“It has not been proved to us that there is a connection between these and Israel,” Mr Amir-Abdollahian told Sky’s US partner NBC News.

More on Iran

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Israel wanted to ‘send a message’

Iran said its air defences destroyed three drones and reported no damage or casualties.

The foreign minister said they were “more like toys that our children play with” than a serious threat, as he sought to play down the threat.

Authorities and media in Iran have described it as an attack by unknown “infiltrators”, dismissing the notion it was an Israeli offensive that bypassed its border defences.

Experts have said the modest, targeted strike appeared designed to avoid further escalation and it appears – for now – to have dampened fears of direct war.

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‘Blasts’ shown over Iran

‘If not, then we are done’

Mr Amir-Abdollahian said Iran was still investigating the attack and reiterated Israeli retaliation would mean an immediate and severe response – “but if not, then we are done. We are concluded”.

Meanwhile, the former head of Israel’s national security council said he didn’t believe there would be “real escalation” after Friday’s limited attack.

Major General Giora Eiland told Sky’s Yalda Hakim the strike showed Israel can reach “even sensitive places”, but it had tried to “do it in a way that both sides can be satisfied”.

He said both nations would try to emphasise their own success and minimise that of the other side.

Read more:
Targeted strike is a message – and Iran’s response is telling
Rules of the game have now shifted

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Military analyst Professor Michael Clarke said it made sense for Iran to try to downplay the attack.

He said it “relieves them of the responsibility of being so outraged they have to do something even more decisive”.

Prof Clarke added that Israel almost certainly used ballistic missiles, rather than drones, but that ultimately both sides were “trying to save face”.

Friday’s strike came after Iran launched an aerial assault on Israel on 13 April, involving about 300 drones and missiles.

It was mostly intercepted and no deaths were reported, but was a dramatic moment that bypassed the usual method of attacks via proxy groups.

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Military analyst Professor Clarke on Israeli attack

Iran’s attack was itself retaliation for a strike – attributed to Israel – on an Iranian consulate in Syria on 1 April.

Two generals and seven members of Iran’s revolutionary guards were killed in the incident.

The Israel-Hamas war – which has seen attacks by Iranian and Israeli proxies increase – has helped create the conditions for this week’s historic flare-up.

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