European Security Agencies Saw Russian Navy Ships Near Nord Stream Leaks

The leaks in the Nord Stream pipes were likely triggered by underwater explosions, and according to two Western intelligence officials and one other person knowledgeable with the case, European security agencies witnessed Russian Navy support ships in the region of the leaks on Monday and Tuesday.

These and other sources indicated that it was uncertain whether the ships were involved in the explosions, but that they would be one of several reasons investigated.

European Security Agencies Saw Russian Navy Ships Near Nord Stream Leaks
European Security Agencies Saw Russian Navy Ships Near Nord Stream Leaks

One of the intelligence officials also mentioned that Russian submarines were spotted in the vicinity last week.

Days after the explosions seemed to trigger three distinct and simultaneous leaks in the two pipelines on Monday, three US officials said the US still has no detailed explanation for what happened.

However, one Danish military official stressed that the presence of Russian ships in the region is not conclusive evidence that Russia was responsible for the damage.

On Tuesday, September 27, 2022, a massive disturbance in the sea was seen off the shore of the Danish island of Bornholm after a series of odd leaks on two natural gas pipelines flowing from Russia under the Baltic Sea to Germany raised worries about probable sabotage. When asked about the possibility of sabotage following the discovery of three leaks on Nord Stream 1 and 2, Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said she “cannot rule out” the possibility.

We visit them once a week at least,” one person added. The number of Russian operations in the Baltic Sea has grown in recent years. They routinely put our vigilance to the test, both on the water and in the air.

Nonetheless, the sightings add fuel to the fire of suspicion directed at Russia, which has been singled out by European and American authorities as the only actor in the region considered to have the means and incentive to deliberately harm the pipelines.

US officials on Wednesday declined to comment on the intelligence regarding the ships.

Denmark and Sweden are looking into the blasts, but they haven’t yet inspected the scene, and facts about what caused them are scant at best. The pressure in the pipes makes it impossible to approach the site of the leaks, according to one European official, therefore a proper inquiry may not begin for another two weeks. However, another source familiar with the subject claims that the investigation might begin as early as Sunday.

Sweden’s security service stated in a statement on Wednesday that it cannot be ruled out “that a foreign force is behind it,” echoing public statements made by the prime ministers of Denmark and Sweden on Tuesday that the leaks were likely the product of planned acts, not accidents. On Tuesday night, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan tweeted that the disclosures were “apparent sabotage.”

However, top Western officials have refrained from blaming Russia or any other country for the strike.

In a public statement, the Kremlin has denied any involvement in the attacks on the pipelines. The accusation has been dismissed as “predictably foolish and ludicrous” by a spokesperson.

CNN has contacted the Russian Defense Ministry for comment on the ships’ presence.

Inquiry investigating the leaking information
European sources said that the Danish government is leading the inquiry and has established a no-fly zone and exclusion area of five nautical miles.

Besides Sullivan, American authorities have been much more cautious than their European colleagues in drawing inferences from the disclosures.

Many of our allies, I believe, have already concluded or come to that conclusion. A high-ranking military officer stated on Wednesday, “I’m not at the point where I can tell you one way or the other.” As far as I’m aware, the depth of the water around the pipeline is somewhere between eighty and a hundred meters. The rest of the story is beyond my ken at this time.
Although the European assessment of deliberate sabotage remains the most likely explanation, one senior US official and a US military official have both stated that Russia remains the leading suspect because no other plausible suspects exist that have the means and will to carry out the operation.

‘It’s hard to envisage any other actor in the region with the capabilities and interest to carry out such an operation,’ the Danish military officer added.

The senior US source also deemed Russia’s call for a meeting of the UN Security Council this week to discuss the broken pipeline to be suspect. The official claimed that Russia isn’t usually well-prepared to move so swiftly, implying that the maneuver had been planned in advance.

Russia would be damaging its own pipelines if it was responsible for the blasts. Gazprom, a state-owned firm in Russia, owns 100% of Nord Stream 2 and holds a substantial stake in Nord Stream 1.

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