The sabotages of Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines were carried out by a group pro-Ukraine and hostile towards Russian President Vladimir Putin, the New York Times reported, citing U.S. officials familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information with significant diplomatic implications.
U.S. officials interviewed by the New York Times said no evidence has so far emerged linking the group allegedly responsible for the sabotage to the Ukrainian government.
The sabotage of Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines took place on September 26, in a stretch on the Baltic Sea a few kilometers from the Danish Island of Bornholm. At the time of the explosions, the pipelines were not in operation. Nord Stream 1 had been closed following a decision by the Russian energy company Gazprom, in response to the sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation by the European Union. The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, on the other hand, had never gone into operation despite being completed in September 2021.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz decided to block the project of the second pipeline that goes from Ust-Luga, on the west coast of southern Russia, to the Lubmin plant, near Greifswald, in Germany, via the Baltic Sea, a few days before the beginning of the Russian invasion on February 24, 2022.
In the days immediately after the explosions, some European officials accused Russia of being the perpetrator of the sabotages. However, no evidence has surfaced indicating Russia's responsibility.
Nord Stream pipelines’ sabotage continues to be a mystery. For months, the governments of the United States, the European Union, Russia, and Ukraine have accused each other of being responsible for the sabotage.
Gas bubbles from the Nord Stream 1 leak reaching the surface of the Baltic Sea, near the Danish island of Bornholm (ESA/dpa)
Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1970, supported a theory in his newsletter, according to which the United States and Norway jointly orchestrated the operation. Hersh’s theory, however, has been widely criticized and judged by many. According to intelligence sources interviewed by the New York Times, the sabotage was carried out by a group of expert divers, who are not affiliated with any army or government agency, although it cannot be excluded that they might have received military training in the past.
Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to Mr. Zelensky, denied any responsibility of the Ukrainian government via a Twitter post. «Ukraine has nothing to do with the Baltic Sea mishap and has no information about “pro-sabotage groups», according to Podolyak.
Although I enjoy collecting amusing conspiracy theories about 🇺🇦 government, I have to say: 🇺🇦 has nothing to do with the Baltic Sea mishap and has no information about "pro-🇺🇦 sabotage groups". What happened to the Nord Stream pipelines? "They sank," as they say in RF itself...
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) March 7, 2023
The information cited by the New York Times is a result of a preliminary investigation and should therefore be taken with some caution. It does not identify with absolute certainty a group directly responsible for the sabotage. However, an investigation by the German newspaper Die Zeit seems to corroborate this theory.
Die Zeit cites evidence collected by investigators in Germany, according to which the sabotage was carried out by a team of six people - five men and a woman, whose nationality is unknown - who arrived in the proximity of the gas pipelines on the night of September 26 on board of a yacht chartered by a company based in Poland and owned by two Ukrainian citizens.
According to the investigation, on the yacht there was a captain, two divers, two assistants, and a doctor. The yacht set sail on September 6 from Rostock, a German port on the Baltic Sea, and the explosive material was delivered the previous day by truck. Investigators say they identified the yacht in the following days first in Wieck auf dem Darß, a German port city about 50 kilometers from Rostock, and then on the Danish Island of Christiansø. After September 26, the yacht was returned to the charterer, and according to what was written in the article, the investigators found traces of explosives on the yacht.
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