Ukrainian government denies involvement in Nord Stream pipeline sabotage as US and German media reports pro-Ukraine task force was responsible

In this picture provided by the Swedish Coast Guard, the gas leak in the Baltic Sea from a Nord Stream pipeline is photographed from the Coast Guard's aircraft on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (Swedish Coast Guard via AP)
By Thomas Brooke
5 Min Read

Ukrainian government officials denied any involvement in the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines, which sparked an international crisis in September last year, after U.S. media outlets citing U.S. government officials reported on Tuesday the attack was carried out by a pro-Ukraine group.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, reiterated on Tuesday the Ukrainian government had “nothing to do with the Baltic Sea mishap and has no information about ‘pro-Ukraine sabotage groups.'”

His remarks follow a report published in the New York Times on Tuesday citing “new intelligence reviewed by U.S. officials,” which suggested a pro-Ukrainian group carried out the attack on the gas pipelines last September.

“Officials who have reviewed the intelligence said they believed the saboteurs were most likely Ukrainian or Russian nationals, or some combination of the two,” the Times reported, adding that U.S. officials had confirmed that “no American or British nationals were involved.”

The Times report cited U.S. sources as confirming there is no evidence President Zelensky or any of his top aides were involved in the planning or execution of the attack.

The report comes at a time of much speculation over who was responsible for the attacks. German newspaper Die Zeit reported on Tuesday that German investigators had made a major breakthrough in the case and had identified the boat from which the Nord Stream attacks were carried out. The newspaper claims the boat was rented from a company based in Poland and belonged to two Ukrainian nationals.

A team of six people, five men and one woman, were involved in the sabotage, according to Die Zeit, consisting of a captain, two divers, two dive assistants, and a doctor who transported the explosives to the German port of Rostock before departing on Sept. 6, 2022.

German investigators are understood to have recovered the boat and found traces of explosives on the table in the cabin, according to the report.

The German investigation is not ruling out a false flag operation, suggesting that the saboteurs could have deliberately left evidence to trace back to Ukraine; however, the report confirms that no evidence to support such a scenario has yet been found.

Podolyak told the newspaper that Ukraine “of course had nothing to do with the attacks on Nord Stream 2,” and insisted there is “no confirmation that Ukrainian officials or the military participated in this operation or that persons were sent to act on their behalf.”

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The conclusions of investigations reported this week contradict a report published last month by Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh, who wrote in detail how the U.S. government, with the aid of Norway, blew up the Nord Stream pipelines. Hersh’s report cited U.S. intelligence sources who claimed that Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, had been leading a task force planning to destroy the pipelines since December 2021.

As a part of this effort to maintain secrecy, “the Biden administration was doing everything possible to avoid leaks as the planning took place late in 2021 and into the first months of 2022,” Hersh’s report stated.

The report by Hersh was swiftly dismissed by the U.S. government but deemed by Hersh’s peers, including Jeffrey Sachs, a Columbia professor and director of the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network, as “credible.”

“I think the Hersh article is very credible, and while it has been rejected by the U.S. and other governments, they haven’t provided any single detail disputing the article. It’s just been a flat rejection saying this is a fantasy, this is false,” Sachs said last month.

Other prominent figures at the time of the attack fingered the U.S. government for the attack, including Poland’s former Foreign and Defense Minister Radosław Sikorski who tweeted his thanks to the United States the following day.

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