Pro-Ukrainian group ‘responsible for Nord Stream pipeline attacks’, US intelligence suggests
US intelligence suggests a pro-Ukraine group was responsible for the damage caused to Nord Stream gas pipelines, according to reports.
There is no evidence Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy or other Ukrainian government officials were behind the attacks which caused natural gas to spew into the Baltic Sea, the New York Times has said citing US officials.
There have been no firm conclusions by the US officials who reviewed the intelligence, the paper adds.
The material reportedly suggests those who carried out the attacks oppose Russian President Vladimir Putin “but does not specify the members of the group, or who directed or paid for the operation”.
“Officials who have reviewed the intelligence said they believed the saboteurs were most likely Ukrainian or Russian nationals, or some combination of the two. US officials said no American or British nationals were involved,” according to the New York Times.
There have been months of speculation about who was responsible for the explosions affecting the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which carry Russian gas to Germany via the Baltic Sea.
The leaks occurred in international waters but within the exclusive economic zone of Denmark and Sweden.
The damaged Nord Stream pipelines, which were built by Russia’s state-controlled energy company Gazprom, discharged huge amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the air for several days.
The United States and NATO called the pipeline attacks “an act of sabotage” while Moscow has blamed the West.
Denmark, Germany and Sweden said last month that their investigations into the attacks have not yet concluded.
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The Kremlin has said in response to the New York Times reports that it is confused as to how US officials can assume anything about the attacks without investigation. Moscow has previously blamed the West for the explosions and said the US had questions to answer over its role in what may have happened.
“Obviously, the authors of the attack want to divert attention. Obviously, this is a coordinated stuffing in the media,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russia’s state-owned RIA news agency on Tuesday.
“How can American officials assume anything without an investigation?”
Mr Peskov also said that Nord Stream shareholder countries should insist on an urgent, transparent investigation.
“We are still not allowed in the investigation. Only a few days ago we received notes about this from the Danes and Swedes,” Mr Peskov said.
“This is not just strange. It smells like a monstrous crime.”
Meanwhile, Russia’s embassy to the United States has said the reports are an attempt to confuse those who are “sincerely” trying to get to the bottom of the case.
“We simply do not and cannot believe in any notion of the ‘impartiality’ of the conclusions of the US intelligence services.
“We regard the anonymous ‘leaks’ to be no more than an attempt to confuse anyone who sincerely wishes to seek out the truth in this flagrant crime,” the embassy said on the Telegram messaging platform.
“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.”
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Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the media reports on Tuesday underscored the need for Moscow’s questions about what happened to be answered.
Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior aide to the Ukrainian president, said Kyiv was “absolutely not involved” in the blasts and has no information about what happened.
Germany’s ARD broadcaster and Zeit newspaper reported on Tuesday – without citing sources – that German authorities were able to identify the boat used for the sabotage operation.
A group of five men and one woman, using forged passports, rented a yacht from a Poland-based company owned by Ukrainian citizens, the German media outlets reported. The nationality of the perpetrators is unclear, they reported.
Investigators found traces of explosives on the yacht, which the group took from Rostock, Germany on 6 September, according to ARD and Zeit.
They also reported that intelligence indicated a pro-Ukrainian group could be behind the attack, but German authorities have not yet found any evidence.