Ukraine has denied any involvement in last year’s explosions that damaged the Nordstream gas pipelines connecting Russia and western Europe, after media reports in the US and Germany suggested pro-Ukrainian operatives may have been behind the attacks.
“Although I enjoy collecting amusing conspiracy theories about Ukraine’s government, I have to say: Ukraine has nothing to do with the Baltic Sea mishap and has no information about ‘pro-Ukrainian sabotage groups,’” Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
Podolyak was reacting to a report in The New York Times that said US officials had reviewed new intelligence suggesting a “pro-Ukrainian group” had carried out the underwater bombings hitting the Nordstream 1 and 2 pipelines in the Baltic Sea in late September of 2022.
The Nordstream pipelines have long been criticised by Ukrainian officials as a symbol of the EU’s dependence on Russian energy supplies both before and after the full-blown invasion of Ukraine that began in February 2022.
German daily newspaper Die Zeit reported officials investigating the explosions had also found indications the perpetrators were linked to Ukraine, though it added they had not yet established who ordered the attack.
The newspaper, citing sources in several countries interviewed in an investigation with the German public broadcaster ARD, said investigators had identified the boat that was believed to have conducted the sabotage operation: a yacht rented by a Poland-based company with Ukrainian owners.
The seaborne operation, it said, was carried out by five men — a captain, two divers and two diving assistants — along with a female doctor. The nationality of the suspected saboteurs, who used forged passports, was unknown, according to the report.
Die Zeit said the group set off from the north German town of Rostock on the Baltic coast on September 6, 20 days before the explosions, and was later located on the Danish island of Christiansø.
The boat was eventually returned to its owner in an uncleaned state, and investigators found traces of explosives in the cabin, according to the report.
John Kirby, a spokesperson for the US National Security Council, said the Biden administration would wait for the outcome of formal probes into the explosions by Germany, Sweden and Denmark before drawing any conclusions.
“We need to let these investigations conclude. And only then should we be looking at what follow-on actions might or may not be appropriate,” Kirby told reporters.
A German government spokesperson said: “The federal government has taken note of the latest report by The New York Times. The Federal Public Prosecutor has been investigating the matter since the beginning of October 2022. He therefore has authority over the procedure.”
The spokesperson added: “A few days ago, Sweden, Denmark and Germany informed the United Nations Security Council that the investigations are ongoing and that there are still no results.”
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