Germany wary of reports of attacks on Nord Stream pipeline

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s defense minister on Wednesday warned of media reports that a pro-Ukrainian group was involved in blowing up the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea last year.

The German daily Die Zeit and the public broadcasters ARD and SWR reported on Tuesday that investigators have largely been able to reconstruct how the pipelines from Russia to Germany were sabotaged on the night of September 26, 2022.

Citing multiple unnamed officials, the news outlets reported that five men and a woman used a yacht chartered by a Ukrainian company in Poland to carry out the attack.

The New York Times also reported Tuesday that US officials have reviewed intelligence suggesting a pro-Ukrainian group was behind the blasts. The Ukrainian government has denied involvement.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said he had read the news reports “with great interest” but warned against jumping to conclusions.

“We must clearly distinguish whether it was a Ukrainian group acting on behalf of Ukraine or (…) without the knowledge of the government,” he told reporters in Stockholm.

At a meeting of European Union defense ministers, Pistorius said some experts had also raised the possibility of a so-called false flag operation by a group posing as Ukrainian.

“It would not be the first time in history of such events,” said the German minister. “That’s why I don’t jump to conclusions.”

When asked if the reports could undermine Western support for Ukraine, Pistorius said he preferred to respond as soon as he had reliable information. “Everything else is hypothetical,” he added.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov dismissed suggestions that the attack may have been ordered by Kiev. “It’s like a compliment to our special forces, but this is not our activity,” he told reporters in Stockholm.

According to the German media, the suspects used forged passports when renting the boat, which departed from the German port of Rostock. A captain, two divers, two dive assistants and a doctor made up the group, ARD reported.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby declined to comment Tuesday on the New York Times report, noting that investigations by Denmark, Germany and Sweden are still ongoing.

“We need to get these investigations completed,” Kirby said. “And only then should we look at which follow-up actions are or are not appropriate.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday described media reports of Ukraine’s alleged involvement in the Nord Stream explosions as a coordinated manipulation designed to cover up the organizers of the attack.

“The masterminds of the terror attack clearly want to divert attention,” Peskov said in remarks from the state news agency RIA Novosti.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his officials have accused the US of organizing the pipeline explosions, which they describe as a terror attack.

Peskov again noted that Russia was denied access to evidence from the investigation. He called for a transparent international investigation.

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines have long been the target of criticism from the United States and some of its allies, who warned they posed a risk to Europe’s energy security due to increasing dependence on Russian gas.

Germany stopped certification of the still-uncommissioned Nord Stream 2 after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and Moscow stopped gas flow in Nord Stream 1 weeks before the attack.


Lorne Cook in Brussels, Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow and Aamer Madhani in Washington contributed to this report.

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