(Washington) A “pro-Ukrainian group” is believed to be behind the sabotage last year of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, reports Tuesday the New York Times based on information seen by US intelligence.
The newspaper does not detail what would be this information to which the American intelligence had access, nor the identity of this “pro-Ukrainian group”.
According to US officials, however, there is no indication that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was involved in the sabotage.
Information collected by US intelligence suggests that the perpetrators behind the sabotage were “adversaries of Russian President Vladimir Putin”, likely Ukrainian or Russian nationals, according to the New York Times.
In a separate article, German media say on Tuesday that the criminal investigation has identified the boat used for the sabotage. This one was rented by a company based in Poland and “apparently owned by two Ukrainians”, claim the weekly Die Zeit as well as the public channels ARD and SWR.
A six-person team, made up of five men and one woman and including divers, boarded the ship to transport and dispose of the explosives at the site, the media continued.
They derive this information from interviews “with sources in several countries”. Judicial inquiries into the destruction of the gas pipelines are carried out by Germany, Denmark and Sweden.
However, “the nationality of the perpetrators is not clear”, adds die Zeit, specifying that false passports were used to rent the boat.
Traces of explosives
Investigators were able to determine that the commando set sail from the German port of Rostock on September 6, 2022 and later located the boat near the Danish island of Christiansø.
Traces of explosives were detected “on the cabin table” of the boat returned “uncleaned” to its owner, writes die Zeit.
“Even if leads lead to Ukraine, the investigators have not yet been able to determine who commissioned” the operation, underlines the weekly.
THE Times adds that the information consulted by American intelligence does not allow “any firm conclusion” and “leaves open the possibility that the operation was launched in secret by a third party force with links within the Ukrainian government or its security services”.
A spokesman for the German government told AFP that the latter had “taken note” of the New York Times article and referred to the ongoing judicial investigation.
“A preliminary investigation is underway in Sweden, so I do not intend to comment on this information,” Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson told reporters on Tuesday.
On September 26, four huge gas leaks preceded by underwater explosions were detected on gas pipelines linking Russia to Germany, all in international waters.
Western countries had accused Russia of being responsible for the explosions, adding to the anger aimed at Moscow after the launch of its offensive in Ukraine. Russia has accused the “Anglo-Saxons” of being behind this sabotage.
Since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the two pipelines have been at the center of geopolitical tensions, stoked after Moscow’s decision to cut off gas supplies to Europe in alleged retaliation for Western sanctions.
Out of service at the time of the events, the two gas pipelines nevertheless contained significant quantities of methane.
In a recent article, American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh wrote that US Navy divers, aided by Norway, allegedly planted explosives on these gas pipelines in June, triggering their explosion three months later.
The United States called this information “completely false”.