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Intel shows pro-Ukraine group behind Nord Stream gas pipeline blast: Report

Kyiv has denied any involvement in the incident

FILES-UKRAINE-RUSSIA-CONFLICT-US-NORDSTREAM (File) Gas leak at the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline site as it is seen from the Danish Defence's F-16, at Baltic island of Bornholm, south of Dueodde | Reuters

A pro-Ukrainian group was behind the Nord Stream pipeline blast that occurred in the exclusive economic zones of Sweden and Denmark in the Baltic Sea last September, a report said.

Though the intelligence reviewed by U.S. officials suggests the role of a pro-Ukrainian group, there was no evidence linking Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky or Kyiv in the incident, The New York Times said on Tuesday. However, Ukraine has denied the reports, stating that its government "was absolutely not involved." 

The underwater pipeline blast occurred seven months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The United States and NATO have called the pipeline attacks "an act of sabotage." Though fingers were initially pointed at Russia, Moscow had claimed it had no role in the incident and blamed the west for it.  

The New York Times report added the U.S. intelligence review suggested the group behind the blasts was opposed to Russian President Vladimir Putin "but does not specify the members of the group, or who directed or paid for the operation."

"Officials who have reviewed the intelligence said they believed the saboteurs were most likely Ukrainian or Russian nationals, or some combination of the two. U.S. officials said no American or British nationals were involved," according to the New York Times report. 

Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, told the New York Times report that Kyiv had no information about what had happened. 

Meanwhile, Russia has responded to the reports stating that it only proves that their "initiative on launching an international investigation under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General is very timely."

Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the media reports underscored the need for Moscow's questions about what happened to be answered. She also accused those responsible for the media leaks of wanting to divert the public's attention and avoid a proper investigation. 

Meanwhile, another report published by a German media house ARD broadcaster and Zeit newspaper said that an investigation launched by Germany into the incident could identify the boat used for the sabotage operation. However, it did not cite sources.

According to their reports, a group of five men and one woman, using forged passports, rented a yacht from a Poland-based company owned by Ukrainian citizens in Rostock, Germany, on September 6. The nationality of the perpetrators is unclear. 

The report too added that intelligence indicated that a pro-Ukrainian group could be behind the attack, but German authorities have not yet found any evidence. 

The reports come a month after Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Harsh claimed that it was the US Navy divers who planted the bombs that destroyed the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines under the Baltic Sea last September. The 82-year-old US-based journalist claimed in his blog post that Americans planted remotely-triggered explosives that damaged three of the four pipelines built to carry natural gas from Russia to Europe.  

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