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25 Aug, 2023 19:13

German officials believe Ukraine destroyed Nord Stream – media

Nothing ties Russia to the explosions, two major German news outlets have reported
German officials believe Ukraine destroyed Nord Stream – media

German investigators probing the attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines are increasingly convinced that the perpetrators in question are linked to Ukraine, Der Spiegel and state broadcaster ZDF reported on Friday.

Those familiar with the probe “consider the clues [pointing to] Ukraine to be particularly convincing,” the ZDF broadcaster said, adding that “there is no reliable evidence” that would suggest Russia was responsible.

Law enforcement agencies are still largely focused on the ‘Andromeda’ sailing yacht. Western media has previously reported that the vessel was chartered by the alleged saboteurs, who used it to plant explosives on the undersea pipelines. Traces of these explosives were reportedly found in the cabin of the yacht.

According to the two outlets, investigators now believe the group that used the vessel was in Ukraine before and after the explosions in the Baltic Sea in late September 2022. This was confirmed by technical data which law enforcement officials were able to retrieve and evaluate, reports say, citing security sources.

The Wall Street Journal previously reported that the yacht was chartered by a Ukrainian-owned, Warsaw-based travel agency and moored at a Polish port before sailing near each of the locations where the explosions later occurred.

On Friday, both German outlets said the alleged saboteurs likely used a fake Moldovan passport belonging to a certain Stefan Marcu to rent the vessel. The real Stefan Marcu, who was contacted by Der Spiegel and ZDF, said he learned about the sabotage from the news and never left Moldova in September 2022. He also said that the passport in question expired in October of the same year and that he had burned it.

The photo in the fake document presented by the alleged saboteurs to charter the yacht belonged to a young man identified only as Valery K., the German media reported, citing their investigation. Valery K. is reported to be from the Ukrainian city of Dnieper.

Der Spiegel and ZDF also obtained the man’s picture in a military uniform along with data they said pointed to the fact that Valery K. served in the Ukrainian army’s 93rd mechanized brigade. The man also reportedly attended diving courses. However, investigators supposedly could not match the man’s alleged DNA to traces found on the ‘Andromeda’ after searching his apartment in the German city of Frankfurt on the Oder.

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, built to deliver Russian natural gas to Germany, were destroyed by underwater explosions off the Danish island of Bornholm in September 2022. Western outlets have since repeatedly reported that evidence found in the case points to Ukraine. Kiev has denied any involvement in the incident.