OAN Roy Francis
UPDATED 8:57 AM PT – Wednesday, March 8, 2023
Authorities investigating the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines had searched a vessel that was suspected of carrying explosives which were used in the blasts, German officials revealed on Wednesday.
The German Federal Prosecutor’s office released a statement which stated that the ship was searched from January 18th to January 20th “in connection with a suspicious ship rental.”
In September 2022, explosions at two locations near the coast of Sweden, and two off the coast of Denmark caused massive leaks in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines. The two pipelines had been made to transport gas from Russia to Germany. Sweden’s Secret Service had revealed that traces of explosives were found on the seabed, which confirmed that the explosions were a result of sabotage.
European countries, and the United States, had placed the blame on Russia, while Russia denied involvement and accused the Western powers of ordering the sabotage.
The two pipelines have long been criticized due to the threat they posed to Europe’s energy security by having the continent overly dependent on the gas transported through them from Russia.
Operations on both pipelines were ceased after the war in Ukraine began. Germany refused to certify Nord Stream 2 after Russia had invaded, and Moscow ceased operation on Nord Stream 1 weeks before the sabotage.
The officials conducting the investigation stated that their “evaluation of the seized traces and objects is ongoing,” and that the company that had officially rented the vessel was not a suspect in the investigation. They offered little details and said that no suspects have yet been arrested, or identified and that they are still conducting their investigations into the perpetrators.
The statement was released days after a report from the New York Times suggested that both United States and European intelligence suspected a pro-Ukrainian group was responsible for the sabotage of the pipelines.
German newspaper Die Zeit and broadcasters ARD and SWR reported that the ship responsible was based in Poland and was rented by Ukrainians. Kyiv, however, had denied any involvement in the sabotage.
German Defense Minister urged caution as he suggested that the sabotage may have been done without the knowledge of the Ukrainian government in order to frame them.
“We have to make a clear distinction whether it was a Ukrainian group, whether it may have happened at Ukrainian orders, or a pro-Ukrainian group (acting) without knowledge of the government. But I am warning against jumping to conclusions,” he said.
Ukrainian presidential advisor Mikhailo Podolyak addressed the reports on Twitter.
“Although I like to collect interesting conspiracy theories about the Ukrainian government, I must point out that Ukraine has no connection to the incident in the Baltic Sea and no information about ‘pro-Ukrainian sabotage groups,'” he said.
Moscow also denounced the reports and claimed that whoever was behind the attack was trying to divert attention from the real culprit by taking part in a “coordinated lead” and giving information to the international media. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also demanded that Russia be allowed to be involved in the investigation of the blasts.
“It’s not just weird. It smells like a monstrous crime,” he said. “At a minimum, the shareholder countries of the Nord Streams and the U.N. should demand an urgent transparent investigation with the participation of everyone who can shed light.”
The White House declined to comment on the reports saying the investigations needed to be finished and “only then should we be looking at what follow on actions might or may not be appropriate.”