US intelligence now says a pro-Ukrainian group sabotaged the Nord Stream pipeline
- Officials are not saying the name of a group or who paid
- They said they thought Zelensky and his government were not involved
- Said no evidence of US or UK involvement in September 2022 bombings
A pro-Ukrainian group carried out the attack on the Nord Stream pipelines last year, US intelligence officials found on Tuesday.
U.S. officials told The New York Times there is no evidence that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky or his top officials were involved in the September 2022 bombings, or that the group was acting under orders from the Ukrainian government.
The Nord Stream natural gas pipelines connect Russia to Western Europe, giving Moscow a direct route for its profitable natural gas business. The surprise attack damaged two of the pipelines – Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 – in the Danish part of the Baltic Sea.
In the outcry that followed, almost every government was blamed: Russia, Germany, Ukraine, Poland, Britain, and the United States.
Satellite image shows gas bubbling up in the water from the Nord Stream pipeline after the bombing in the Baltic Sea
Western allies blamed Russia, Moscow blamed the US and Britain. US officials said no US or British nationals were involved.
White House spokesman John Kirby declined to comment on the report, saying Germany, Denmark and Sweden were still investigating the explosion, which he called “sabotage.”
Three investigations are currently underway. And they are not ready. As far as I know, none of these three countries have publicly stated what they think,” he told reporters during a briefing call on Tuesday.
Last month, the White House denied a report that US Navy divers had planted remote-controlled explosives that destroyed parts of the pipeline.
US intelligence officials said they believe the actual perpetrators were opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But officials did not say which group was behind the attack, who led it or who paid for it.
Officials also stressed that their conclusions are not 100%, leaving open the possibility that the operation was carried out off the books by a proxies associated with the Ukrainian government or its security services, The Times reported.
All four leaks are located in the Baltic Sea off the Danish island of Bornholm. Two of the leaks were in the Swedish exclusive economic zone and the other two in the Danish
This handout photo, released September 30, 2022 by the Danish Defense Command and taken on September 29, 2022, shows one of four gas leaks at one of the damaged Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea
Ukraine has long opposed the pipeline, which would easily bring Russian gas to European customers. Russia is one of the top three oil producers in the world. Moscow relies heavily on oil and natural gas revenues, which accounted for 45% of Russia’s federal budget in 2021.
At the time of the attack, the US called it sabotage.
The advanced attack took place underwater, near the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea.
Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2, as the two pipelines are called, stretch 760 miles from Russia’s northwest coast to Lubmin in northeastern Germany.
The first cost more than $12 billion to build and was completed in 2011.
US officials said they do not believe the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy was involved
Both Swedish and Danish authorities have investigated the four holes punched in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines by underwater attacks.
While the leaks were in international waters, two were in the Danish exclusive economic zone and two in Sweden.
The pipelines were at the center of geopolitical tensions as Russia cut gas supplies to Europe in presumed retaliation for Western sanctions following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Although the pipelines were not operating, they contained gas before falling victim to the apparent sabotage.