The US and Europe intelligence agencies have not intercepted communications of either Russian or Ukrainian officials taking credit for the September Nord Stream pipelines attack, The Washington Post reports, citing sources, following The New York Times who reported earlier on the topic of “pro-Ukrainian saboteurs” potentially being responsible for the bombings.
It is unlikely that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky or members of his inner circle would orchestrate such an attack, seeing as they would not want to risk jeopardising the Western support in the war, WP’s source claims.
According to the newspaper,
there is still “no forensic evidence from the blast site that concretely ties the sabotage to any country”.
NYT previously reported that the attack could have been carried out by a “pro-Ukrainian group” that was acting without Kyiv’s direct knowledge. However, there is “other intelligence suggesting the possibility that Russia was responsible”, according to WP. In particular, “Russian naval vessels were detected at or near the locations of the attack in the weeks leading up to the explosions”.
The question of who bombed the pipelines remains open, in part because it is unclear who had the technical capabilities to carry out the operation.
According to Die Zeit, German researchers found a yacht back in September that had been rented by a Polish company and allegedly used in the operation. Six members of the crew (captain, doctor, two divers, and two divers’ assistants) brought and set up explosives on the Baltic seabed, which led to the pipelines getting damaged, the German newspaper claims.
The vessel was rented by Ukrainian citizens, according to Die Zeit, however, the actual client remains unknown.
The operation could have been carried out “under a false flag” to make Ukraine appear at fault, the newspaper notes.
Adviser to the Head of the Office of President of Ukraine Mykhailo Podolyak said that Ukraine had nothing to do with the attack and had no information about a “pro-Ukrainian sabotage group”.
On 26 September, gas leaks were reported on two strings of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline in the exclusive economic zone of Denmark to the northeast of the island of Bornholm. Later, another leak was documented on one of the strings of Nord Stream 2 in Denmark’s exclusive economic zone to the southeast of Bornholm. Swedish and Danish seismic stations documented two major underwater explosions in the area of the gas leaks on the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines.
On 27 September, Der Tagesspiegel reported that the pipelines may have been damaged in a deliberate attack by divers or from a submarine. The investigation was considering two versions of what happened: one version said Ukraine or pro-Ukrainian forces were behind the attack, while the other one suggested that Russia may have been involved in the bombings. Norway’s Energy Ministry and Danish Police reported that they had documented the presence of unidentified drones in the North Sea after the leaks.