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North Stream | Kyiv denies being behind gas pipeline sabotage



(Kyiv) Kyiv on Wednesday denied any involvement in the sabotage last year of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea that the New York Times attributed to a “pro-Ukrainian group”, on the basis of information obtained by American intelligence.

Data collected by US intelligence suggests that the perpetrators behind the sabotage of the two gas pipelines were “adversaries of Russian President Vladimir Putin”, writes the New York Times.

Since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the two pipelines have been at the heart of geopolitical tensions, stoked after Moscow’s decision to cut off gas supplies to Europe in alleged retaliation for Western sanctions. .

On September 26, 2022, four huge gas leaks preceded by underwater explosions were detected on gas pipelines connecting Russia to Germany, all in international waters.

Out of service at the time of the events, the two gas pipelines nevertheless contained significant quantities of methane.

A “pro-Ukrainian group” would be behind this sabotage, believes the New York Times on the basis of information consulted by the American intelligence, without however giving details on these elements nor on the identity of this “pro-Ukrainian group”.

However, Kyiv has formally denied these allegations.

“Although I like to collect funny conspiracy theories about the Ukrainian government, I have to say that Ukraine has nothing to do with the accident in the Baltic Sea and has no information about ‘groups of pro-Ukrainian sabotage,” tweeted Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky.

According to US officials, there is no indication that the Ukrainian president was involved in this sabotage.

Traces of explosives in the boat

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.

German media said on Tuesday that the criminal investigation had identified the boat used for the sabotage. This one was rented by a company based in Poland “apparently owned by two Ukrainians”, claim the weekly Die Zeit as well as the public channels ARD and SWR.

A team of six people, made up of five men and one woman, including divers, boarded the ship to transport and dispose of the explosives on the site, the media believe.

They derive this information from interviews “with sources in several countries”. Judicial inquiries into the destruction of gas pipelines are being carried out by Germany, Denmark and Sweden.

However, “the nationality of the authors is not clear”, adds Die Zeitstating that false passports were used to rent the boat.

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 New York 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 spokesperson for the German government told AFP that the latter had “taken note” of the article by New York Times and referred to the ongoing judicial inquiry.

“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.

Russia had accused the “Anglo-Saxons” of being behind this sabotage.

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”.

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