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Monday, March 20, 2023

Zelensky denies Ukraine's involvement in Nord Stream attacks

by The Kyiv Independent news deskMarch 10, 2023 6:37 pm

Zelensky denies Ukraine's involvement in Nord Stream attacksPresident Volodymyr Zelensky speaks at a press conference following his meeting with Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin in Kyiv on March 10, 2023. (President's Office)

Ukraine is not involved in the explosions on Russian Nord Stream gas pipelines, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on March 10, cited by Suspilne news outlet. 

"It's funny, to be honest," Zelensky told reporters about recent media reports suggesting Ukraine was linked to the pipelines' sabotage. "We are interested in weapons being supplied, sanctions being introduced, and our victory."

According to Ukraine's president, information about Kyiv's alleged connection with Nord Stream attacks is being spread to slow down Western aid to Ukraine.

"I think it is very dangerous that some independent media, which I always treated with great respect, take such steps. I think it is wrong, it only plays into the hands of Russia," Zelensky said at a press conference, as quoted by Suspilne. 

The New York Times reported on March 7, citing unidentified U.S. officials who reviewed new intelligence, that a "pro-Ukrainian group" likely consisting of Russian or/and Ukrainian nationals might have carried out the attack on the Nord Stream gas pipelines. The intelligence suggests that the group included opponents of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, but there is no evidence of any government's involvement in the sabotage. 

According to a joint report by the German publications ARD, Kontraste, SWR, and Die Zeit published on the same day, German investigators identified a boat allegedly used to sabotage Russian Nord Stream gas pipelines, suggesting it had been rented from a company owned by Ukrainians. The citizenship of the alleged saboteurs is unclear as they likely used forged documents, reads the report. German investigators have not yet managed to find out who had ordered the attack, Die Zeit wrote. 

The Times reported that Western intelligence had known for months the name of a Ukrainian private sponsor of the explosions, but his name was withheld to protect Ukraine. According to the publication, the suspect is not related to the Ukrainian government.

Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, and Mykhailo Podoliak, an advisor to the presidential administration, also denied Kyiv's involvement in the explosions. 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and EU top diplomat Josep Borrell urged to wait for the official results of the investigations being conducted separately by Denmark, Sweden, and Germany. 

On Sept. 26-28, four leaks were discovered in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in the Baltic sea that were built to supply natural gas from Russia to Europe. Following the leaks, several Western officials, including U.S. President Joe Biden, called them a "deliberate act of sabotage."

Russian submarines were seen on Sept. 24-25 near the areas where the leaks were discovered, CNN reported, citing an unnamed Western intelligence official. Russia denied its responsibility for the explosions.

Gas delivery from Russia to Europe via Nord Stream 1, which peaked at 59.2 billion cubic meters in 2021, was cut by Russian state gas company Gazprom on Aug. 31, 2022, on the grounds of required maintenance work.

Nord Stream 2, set to be opened this year, was halted when Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February. 

The Kyiv Independent news desk
The Kyiv Independent news desk

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