Credit: Sky News (screenshot via YouTube)

Pro-Ukraine group linked to Nord Stream bombings – reports 

The Guardian, The New York Times, and the German newspaper Die Zeit have been among outlets to report on new intelligence reviewed by U.S. officials suggesting that a pro-Ukrainian group may have carried out the attack on the Nord Stream pipelines last year.

According to Die Zeit, investigators in Germany believe the attack on the pipelines was perpetrated by a team of six individuals, using a rented yacht hired from a company registered in Poland and owned by two Ukrainian citizens.

The new information has been shared between European intelligence agencies in a bid to end the mystery surrounding the attack which caused perplexity among Western governments, and which was initially blamed on Russia by the West back in September 2022. 

The reporting is the first significant known lead about who was responsible for the Nord Stream bombings that carried natural gas from Russia to Europe. The act of “sabotage,” carried out in September 2022, saw the pipelines built to transport gas from Russia to Germany sustain “unprecedented” damage, according to Nord Stream AG, the Gazprom-owned operator of Nord Stream.

Three days following the bombings, on 29 September, Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced the attack on the pipeline as “an unprecedented act of international terrorism”. For months, there has been uncertainty on both sides of the Atlantic regarding who was responsible for the attack.

Germany, Sweden, and Denmark all launched investigations into the incident, which saw three of the four pipes making up the Nord Stream 1 and 2 underseas gas pipelines from Russia to Germany destroyed.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

German media have reported that German prosecutors have found what they described as “traces” of evidence which indicates that Ukrainians “may have been involved” in the explosions. According to Tagesschau, a German national and international news service, investigators in the country identified a boat that was potentially used for transporting a crew of six, along with explosives and diving equipment, into the Baltic sea in early September of last year.

According to a joint investigation undertaken by German public broadcasters ARD and SWR, along with German newspaper Die Zeit, charges were then placed on the pipelines. The reports from Germany say that the yacht had been rented from a Poland-based company which is apparently owned by two Ukrainians.

Reports in German media state that the yacht was returned to the owner “in uncleaned condition” and that “on the table in the cabin, the investigators were able to detect traces of explosives.”

There has, however, been no clear evidence presented to determine who ordered the attack, the reports emphasise. In addition, international reports on a potential link with Ukraine  said that investigators cannot rule out that the potential link could be part of a “false flag” operation to try and blame Kyiv for the sabotage.

“Ukraine and its allies have been seen by some officials as having the most logical potential motive to attack the pipelines. They have opposed the project for years, calling it a national security threat because it would allow Russia to sell gas more easily to Europe,” The New York Times reports.

However, in its first reaction to the claims, the Ukrainian government and military intelligence officials denied the claims, insisting they had no role in the attack – and do not know who carried it out. 

Taking to Twitter, senior advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Mykhailo Podolyak, posted that Ukraine “has nothing to do with the Baltic Sea mishap.” 

“Although I enjoy collecting amusing conspiracy theories about the Ukrainian government, I have to say: Ukraine has nothing to do with the Baltic Sea mishap and has no information about ‘pro-Ukraine sabotage groups,'” he wrote.

He also claimed that he had no information about pro-Ukrainian “sabotage groups.”

Meanwhile, the Kremlin dismissed the intelligence from European and American agencies as an attempt by the perpetrators to divert attention, weeks after reports suggested the US may be responsible for the attack.

Russia said it wanted an independent international inquiry to be set up in response to the report. Its deputy envoy to the UN said Moscow would call for a vote at the UN security council on whether to launch one.

On Wednesday. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejected  the US reports, slamming the new lead as a coordinated effort by “the authors of the attack” to divert attention.

“How can American officials assume anything without an investigation?” Peskov said in a statement, adding that Russia was still not allowed to be part of the investigation into the “monstrous crime”.

On Wednesday, Russia’s embassy to the US said that the information from US intelligence amounted to  “no more than an attempt to confuse anyone who sincerely wishes to seek out the truth in this flagrant crime”.

It added: “It is simply a means of shifting suspicion from those in official government positions who ordered and coordinated the attacks in the Baltic Sea on to abstract individuals of some sort.”

The German Government confirmed that investigations launched by Sweden, Denmark and Germany are ongoing, and there is no clear result as of yet.

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