US intelligence suggests that a pro-Ukrainian group is responsible for the damage caused to the Nord Stream pipelines, according to reports.
There is no evidence of the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky or other Ukrainian government officials were behind the attacks that leaked natural gas into the Baltic Sea, The New York Times said, citing US officials.
There have been no firm conclusions from US officials who have reviewed the intelligence, the paper adds.
The material reportedly suggests that those who carried out the attacks oppose the Russian president Vladimir Putin “but does not specify the members of the group, or who directed or paid for the operation”.
“Officials examining the intelligence said they believed the saboteurs were most likely Ukrainian or Russian nationals, or a combination of the two. US officials said no American or British nationals were involved,” according to the New York Times.
There have been months of speculation about who was responsible for the explosions that hit the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which carry Russian gas to Germany across the Baltic Sea.
The losses occurred in international waters but within the exclusive economic zone of Denmark and Sweden.
Damaged Nord Stream pipelines, built by Russia’s state-owned energy company Gazprom, vented huge amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the air for several days.
The US and NATO called the pipeline attacks “an act of sabotage”, while Moscow blamed the West.
Denmark, Germany and Sweden said last month that their investigations into the attacks were not yet concluded.
The Kremlin said in response to New York Times reports it was confused about how US officials could make assumptions about the attacks without investigation. Moscow has previously blamed the West for the explosions and said the US had questions to answer about its role in what may have happened.
“Obviously, the perpetrators of the attack want to divert attention. Obviously, this is coordinated stuffing in the media,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russia’s state news agency RIA on Tuesday.
“How can American officials make assumptions without an investigation?”
Peskov also said that Nord Stream shareholder countries should insist on an urgent and transparent investigation.
“We are not yet allowed to participate in the investigation. Only a few days ago we received notes about this from the Danes and Swedes,” Peskov said.
“This isn’t just weird. It smells like a monstrous crime.”
Meanwhile, the Russian embassy in the US said the reports are an attempt to confuse those who are “sincerely” trying to get to the bottom of the case.
“We simply do not and cannot believe in any notion of the ‘impartiality’ of US intelligence findings.
“We believe the anonymous ‘leaks’ are nothing more than an attempt to confuse anyone who sincerely wishes to seek the truth in this flagrant crime,” the embassy said on messaging platform Telegram.
“It is simply a means to divert suspicion from those in official government positions who ordered and coordinated the
attacks in the Baltic Sea on abstract individuals of some kind”.
To know more:
War in Ukraine – latest: Russian planners face ‘dilemma’
How the Nord Stream 2 pipeline has been controversial from the start
The pipeline linking Russia to Germany is a symbol of how toxic political decisions can become
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said media reports on Tuesday stressed the need to answer Moscow’s questions about what happened.
Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior aide to the Ukrainian president, said Kiev “was absolutely not involved” in the explosions and had no information on what happened.
German broadcaster ARD and Zeit newspaper reported on Tuesday – without citing sources – that German authorities were able to identify the vessel used in the sabotage operation.
A group of five men and a woman, using fake passports, have chartered a yacht from a Poland-based company owned by Ukrainian citizens, German media reported. The nationality of the perpetrators is unclear, they said.
Investigators found traces of explosives on the yacht, which the group took from Rostock, Germany, on Sept. 6, according to ARD and Zeit.
They also said intelligence indicated that a pro-Ukrainian group may be behind the attack, but German authorities have yet to find any evidence.