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Europe’s Nord Stream Attack Probes Go On As Report Blames Pro-Ukraine Group

Ongoing European investigations into the suspected acts of sabotage against the Nord Stream pipelines running through the Baltic Sea continue amid a new report citing US intelligence assessment of the involvement of a pro-Ukrainian group.

The report, published Tuesday by The New York Times, cited unnamed US officials who were said to have reviewed new intelligence pointing to an unidentified pro-Ukrainian group in underwater attacks that ravaged the pipelines last September. The US officials were cited as having no evidence of direct connections between the group and the administration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, though no further details were provided.

The news marked a new turn in a case in which US and European officials have offered few answers despite significant media attention.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, White House National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordination John Kirby deferred questions about the report to the authorities of Denmark, Germany and Sweden, which have opened separate probes into the incident.

“Those investigations are not closed,” Kirby said. “They’re still hard at work on that, and so I’m just not going to get ahead of that and get investigative work. And I’d have to refer you to each of those European countries to comment on their investigations.”

One German official speaking on background said the country’s probe was indeed ongoing, while also stating that Berlin had eyes on the recent news.

“The German government has taken note of the report,” the official said, “and the Attorney General has been investigating this matter since the beginning of October 22.”

A spokesperson for the Swedish Foreign Ministry also said the probe there remains active.

“A Swedish preliminary investigation is ongoing,” the spokesperson told Newsweek. “We will not speculate about motive or actor and have no further comment. Questions concerning the preliminary investigation should be directed to the relevant authorities.”

Two weeks ago, representatives of Denmark, Germany and Sweden informed the United Nations Security Council that their investigations had not yet concluded.

The UN has served as a venue for speculations over the incident, which took place months after Russia launched a war in Ukraine, resulting in Western sanctions against Moscow. Weeks before the conflict erupted, President Joe Biden warned that, “if Russia invades, that means tanks or troops crossing the border of Ukraine again, then there will be—there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2, we will bring an end to it.”

Despite Biden’s warning, Western suspicions initially focused on the Kremlin, which championed the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines up until the latter was shuttered by Germany under US pressure days before the outbreak of conflict in Ukraine, and the former was closed by Moscow as a result of Western sanctions in the weeks preceding the attacks.

Now Russia has demanded further transparency over the European probes. Speaking late last month at the Security Council debate on the incident, Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vassily Nebenzia claimed there was “proof that explosives had been planted” near the pipeline during NATO exercise held in the Baltic Sea in the summer of 2022.

The claim originated in a blog report published earlier last month by US journalist Seymour Hersh, who cited an unnamed source claiming that US President Joe Biden himself ordered the bombing of the pipelines through the use of elite Navy divers and coordination with other countries, including Norway .

White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson has dismissed Hersh’s account as “false and complete fiction.”

As questions persist, however, Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin himself, have increasingly suggested Washington was involved in some way with the attack.

Reached for comment, the Russian Embassy in Washington, DC referred to comments by Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, who said Tuesday that “the Western media is being bombarded by the news that there is a new version within the investigation into the terrorist attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines.”

“First, it is not Russia. Secondly, Ukrainian formations are behind the attacks,” she said. “I wonder who lets such leaks take place and saturate the media landscape? The answer is those do who do not want to carry out investigation in accordance with the law and who are going by hook or by crook to divert the public’s attention from facts. “

And she too referenced Hersh’s article as being worthy of examination.

“Instead of spreading the leaks,” Zakharova said, “the Western regimes, who have something to do with the incident, should answer Russian official requests and at least examine in detail the journalistic investigation by Seymour Hersh, without substituting it with misinformation.”

Meanwhile, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelensky, has dismissed the allegations of any Ukrainian government involvement in the Nord Stream attacks.

Ongoing European investigations into the suspected acts of sabotage against the Nord Stream pipelines running through the Baltic Sea continue amid a new report citing US intelligence assessment of the involvement of a pro-Ukrainian group.

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