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4 Feb, 2023 11:27

No proof Russia linked to Nord Stream sabotage – German prosecutor

Moscow’s alleged involvement in the gas pipeline blasts “hasn’t been proven,” Peter Frank said
No proof Russia linked to Nord Stream sabotage – German prosecutor

Berlin has no proof linking Russia to the sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines at the bottom of the Baltic Sea last year, Germany’s Public Prosecutor General Peter Frank has acknowledged.

“It currently has not been proven,” he said of alleged Russian involvement during an interview with Die Welt newspaper on Saturday. “The investigation is ongoing,” he added.

As part of the probe, two research vessels were used to collect water and soil samples from the site of the explosions and recover debris from the damaged pipelines, the Prosecutor General revealed. “We are currently evaluating all this forensically,” he said.

According to Frank, the suspicion “that there had been a foreign sabotage act [in this case], has so far not been substantiated.”

Four leaks in two pipelines, which transported Russian gas to Europe through Germany, were discovered near the Danish island of Bornholm in the territorial waters of Denmark and Sweden in late September. The two Nordic nations have been conducting their own investigations into the blasts, and Germany has been “in contact” with them, Frank said.

Earlier this week, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz refused to comment on the probe carried out by Berlin, saying concrete proof needed to be obtained before any statements could be made. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova responded by saying that the lack of transparency on the issue from Germany suggested that “Berlin has something to hide.”

On Wednesday, The Times reported that German investigators were “open to theories that a Western state carried out the bombing with the aim of blaming it on Russia.”

The Swedish authorities concluded in November that the pipelines had been sabotaged, but refrained from naming the culprit. However, it didn’t stop Kiev and some of its Western backers from assigning blame on Moscow, claiming that it damaged its own infrastructure to put pressure on the EU amid the conflict in Ukraine.

The Russian authorities have described those accusations as “absurd” and pointed to the fact that the only side that benefited from Nord Stream being rendered inoperable was the US, which drastically increased supplies of its liquefied natural gas to Europe.

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said during a congressional hearing last week that she was “gratified” by the destruction of Nord Stream. According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, with this remark Nuland effectively “confessed” Washington’s involvement in the sabotage.