The bombing of the Nord Stream gas pipeline was a major ecological disaster that also ended an important source of energy for one of the most advanced countries in Europe: Germany.
But now there is evidence that the attacks may have been an “inside job”; and contrary to early reports, not the gross sabotage of NATO’s archenemy, Russia.
The Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines running under the Baltic Sea for the transport of Russian natural gas to Germany were destroyed by explosions in late September 2022. In recent months, there have been growing indications that Ukraine may be behind the detonations. , including investigations by the German authorities.
“The tracks lead in one direction: to Ukraine,” Der Spiegel reported on Friday.
“It’s a spy thriller that has what it takes to change world politics: A year ago, a secret commando blew up the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea,” the report said. “Since then, investigators have been looking for the perpetrators. . . The path they are following is politically very dangerous.”
The saboteurs of the Nord Stream gas pipeline appear to have fled to Ukraine after the attack. This is indicated by numerous traces of data that the researchers were able to evaluate, reports Spiegel magazine. Experts from the Federal Criminal Police Office and the Federal Police concluded that the suspects were in Ukraine before and after the act of sabotage and communicated from there, according to a preliminary report on Friday.
According to the magazine, suspicions now prevail among investigators and agents that a Ukrainian commando was responsible for the attack on Germany’s energy infrastructure. On the other hand, there is no sign of a so-called “false flag” operation by Moscow, in which Russia triggered the explosions and deliberately left a false trail in Ukraine.
The German Minister of the Interior, Nancy Faeser (SPD), is confident that there will be an indictment against the saboteurs of the Nord Stream gas pipeline. “I hope that the federal attorney general will find enough clues to charge the perpetrators,” Faeser told Der Spiegel. In the case, he is investigating unknown persons for “causing an explosive blast and unconstitutional sabotage.”
“We must bring these criminals to justice,” Faeser stressed. “It would also strengthen citizens’ confidence in the rule of law if it were possible to solve such a complex case. The attack immediately raised the question of how the Federal Republic could best protect itself. A failure of critical infrastructure, such as pipelines or power lines, could have a huge impact on people’s lives,” the minister said.
In July, European envoys informed the UN Security Council that their investigation had found evidence of underwater explosives in samples collected from a yacht examined as part of the investigation. However, they stated that it was not yet possible to “reliably establish” who was behind the act, their intentions or whether a specific nation was involved.
Earlier in March, officials had expressed skepticism about media claims suggesting a pro-Ukraine group had orchestrated the sabotage. German media reports at the time had indicated that six people, five men and one woman, used a yacht chartered by a Ukraine-based company originating from the German port of Rostock to carry out the attack.
While German federal prosecutors did not directly address these and other media speculation, they did verify that a ship was inspected in January. They also noted suspicions that this vessel could have been used to deliver explosives for the purpose of damaging the pipelines.
German intelligence officials reacted to the explosions by raising suspicions that Russia had caused them. Gerhard Schindler, former head of the German Federal Intelligence Service, reacted to the situation.
“Unnoticed and conspiratorial damage to pipelines at a depth of 80 meters in the Baltic Sea requires sophisticated technical and organizational capabilities that clearly point to a state actor,” Schindler said. “Only Russia can really be considered for this, especially since it stands to gain the most from this act of sabotage.”
US officials were also quick to point the finger at Russia.
Former CIA Director John Brennan implicated Russia as the likely culprit in the Nord Stream bombings.
“I think all the signs point to some kind of sabotage,” Brennan told CNN, where he is a contributor. “Russia has an underwater capability to easily place explosive devices through these pipelines. I think it’s a signal to Europe that Russia can reach beyond Ukraine’s borders. So who knows what [Putin] I might be planning the next one.”
Jennifer Granholm, the US energy secretary, told the BBC that the cause of an “act of sabotage” was being investigated, adding that “these incidents are highly unlikely to be a coincidence”.
In September, it was discovered that the CIA “issued a vague warning in June to several European nations, including Germany, that the two Nord Stream pipelines carrying natural gas from Russia could be targeted in future attacks,” the Times reported . after the Nord Stream attacks.
In early 2023, US intelligence analysts admitted their belief that pro-Ukrainian groups were likely behind the bombings. In June 2023, it became known that US intelligence had been alerted to the Ukrainian plan three months before an operation was carried out.
“Three months before saboteurs bombed the Nord Stream pipeline, the Biden administration learned from a close ally that the Ukrainian military had planned a covert attack on the underwater network, using a small team of divers who directly reported to the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces,” the Washington Post reported.
“Details about the plan, which had not been previously reported, were collected by a European intelligence service and shared with the CIA in June 2022,” the report added. “They provide some of the most specific evidence to date linking the Ukrainian government to the eventual attack in the Baltic Sea, which US and Western officials have described as a brazen and dangerous act of sabotage of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. Europe”.
The European intelligence report implicating Ukraine in the Nord Stream attacks was part of the Discord leaks shared by Air National Guard member Jack Teixeira.
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