The Nord Stream pipeline sabotage is back in the news.
Media: German police have located mysterious boat on Christiansø. Was used for attacks on Nord Stream, they claim
Mikkel Danielsen, Berlingske.dk, March 8
Long story short: five men and a woman using false passports rented a boat from a Polish boat rental agency in Poland. The boat rental place was run by two Ukrainian nationals. The rental crew consisted of a captain, two divers, two assistant divers, and a doctor. German authorities claim to have found the residue of explosives on the boat.
This is all pure speculation based on the German investigation into the sabotage. No one is saying any of this stuff on the record.
German investigators now believe it all leads back to Ukraine.
This is due, among other things, to the fact that a “Western intelligence service” – according to Die Zeit – sent a tip to several European partners shortly after the attack that a Ukrainian commando group was behind it.
The German media’s articles come on the same day that The New York Times reports that anonymous American officials have said that they have seen “new intelligence” which allegedly indicates that a “pro-Ukrainian group” should have been behind the sabotage. According to the article, this intelligence does not contain indications that Volodymyr Zelenskyj should have known about the operation.
One of Zelenskyi’s advisers has told Reuters that Kyiv is “absolutely not involved” in the Nord Stream sabotage and that the government has “no information” about the incident.
According to Die Zeit, Western intelligence services do not rule out that the Nord Stream sabotage could be a false flag operation – that is, a Russian attack designed so that Ukrainians look like the masterminds. However, the German investigators have not seen any indications of this, German media write.
This is ace U.S. correspondent Mikkel Danielsen reporting, remember, so take it for what it’s worth.
Danielsen takes a deep dive into contrarian views of these reports:
However, the new development has been met with skepticism from several Danish experts.
To Berlingske, the former chief analyst in the Defense Intelligence Service (FE), Jacob Kaarsbo, said on Tuesday that he still finds it very “very unlikely” that pro-Ukrainian forces were behind the sabotage, despite the anonymous American statements.
“Once again we are talking about loose rumors, which are being circulated on a bad basis,” he said.
These are certainly rumors, but I’m curious what “bad basis” Kaarsbo is referring to. I mean, beyond the fact of their being anonymously sourced—something the establishment media (including Berlingske) never seem to object to when it serves their agenda.
On Twitter, the Danish open source analyst Oliver Alexander – who analyzes the course of the war via publicly available sources – writes that it is difficult to imagine how the rented yacht could transport the many hundreds of kilograms of explosives, which, according to Western intelligence sources, have been used for to burst the gas lines.
Several Danish experts also point out that it is unrealistic that divers alone should be able to transport such large quantities of explosives down to the depths where the cables lie.
I’m skeptical of western governments, and a lifetime of conditioning has left me entirely indifferent to statements by anonymous intelligence officials, but these are some pretty weak objections. Without knowing the size of the boat, or what kind of equipment it had on board, these are pretty stupid arguments.
Oliver Alexander is also surprised that the tanker Minerva Julie, which has clear connections to Russia, during the same period sailed back and forth over the very area northeast of Bornholm, where an explosion blew a hole in the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline on September 26.
That’s certainly damning… but how many other vessels were in the area at the time? We’d need to know that before could draw any conclusions about the Minerva Julie, wouldn’t we? I mean, saying “Joe Blow was in the same room as the murder victim” sounds pretty bad for Joe Blow—but if there were 47 other people in the room, you’d want a little more evidence than Joe’s mere presence, wouldn’t you?
Danielsen concludes (my emphasis):
The Nord Stream sabotage is one of the biggest mysteries of the past year’s war in Europe.
The solution to the puzzle could potentially have major implications for the coalition behind the aid to Ukraine. If it turns out that Ukraine’s government is directly or indirectly connected to the attack, it could damage Kyiv’s relationship with Germany and other European partners.
The Police Intelligence Service informs Berlingske that the Danish investigation is still ongoing and that it has no comment for the time being.
A spokesperson from the German government tells Die Zeit that it is only “a few days ago” that Denmark, Sweden and Germany informed the UN Security Council that the investigations are still ongoing and that they have not yet had any results.
I still believe that, barring any major developments in the conduct of the war, that closing statement is going to remain the final word.
Maybe in a couple of decades the truth will come out, but as I’ve been arguing all along there’s not a single government involved in all this that has any interest in solving this riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an engima. And until it serves someone’s purposes for the truth to come out, it won’t.
All that said, I find two things interesting here: (1) that “a Ukrainian commando group” has been on the west’s list of suspects from the start, and (2) the addendum that if in fact Ukrainian commandos did it, which they didn’t, well, Zelensky didn’t know about it.
With respect to thing one: that’s interesting because this is the first public acknowledgment I’ve seen that this has been a theory taken seriously by western governments.
With respect to thing two, I just get suspicious whenever someone says “that didn’t happen, but if it did, the boss didn’t know.” It usually means the boss knew but someone else agreed to take the hit if things went badly.
Biden’s vow that the Nord Stream pipelines would “end” in the event of a Russian invasions of Ukraine gets a lot of attention. I’ve mentioned it several times myself. But something else I mentioned, all the way back in last spring, gets much less attention.
It’s from a passage I cited from a Berlingske article on May 30 last year:
According to the European online media Politico, Olena Zerkal said that Ukraine has a fantastic means of blackmail: part of the pipeline that brings Russian oil to Hungary runs through Ukraine.
The pipeline is called Druzhba and has been able to transport Russian oil through Ukraine to Hungary, despite all the disturbance.
“Something could happen to it. And in my opinion, it would be very appropriate if something happened to it,” Zerkal said.
Olena Zerkal is not some random Ukrainian saying it would be appropriate to cripple a Russian gas pipeline on its way into Europe: she is (or was at the time) an advisor to the Ukrainian energy minister and a former deputy foreign minister. A member of Zelensky’s government.
And she was speaking about four months before the Nord Stream pipelines were sabotaged.
Nudge nudge wink wink.