Danish investigators invited the Nord Stream pipelines’ Russian operator to inspect and help recover an unidentified object found near the only remaining intact pipeline on Thursday.
Last week, the pipelines’ Swiss-based operator found the cylindrical object jutting over a foot out of the seabed during an inspection of the last intact pipeline, according to Reuters. The other three pipelines that make up the Nord Stream network, which carries natural gas from Russia to Germany, were blown up in September in what several countries’ investigators have said was an intentional act of sabotage.
“With a view to further clarifying the nature of the object, Danish authorities have decided to salvage the object with assistance from the Danish Defence,” Denmark’s Energy Agency said in a statement Thursday. “The Danish Energy Agency has in that context invited the owner of the pipeline, Nord Stream 2 AG, to participate in the operation.”
Despite months of investigating, officials have yet to formally accuse anyone of blowing up the pipelines. German investigators have said the party of a yacht rented several weeks before the explosions is raising red flags. The mysterious crew, which rented the boat on September 6, has ties to Ukraine, investigators said.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, dismissed questions that Ukraine’s government had been involved in the Nord Stream explosions.
“Although I enjoy collecting amusing conspiracy theories about the [Ukrainian] government, I have to say: [Ukraine] has nothing to do with the Baltic Sea mishap and has no information about ‘pro-[Ukraine] sabotage groups,’” Podolyak said in a post on social media.
Investigators say that the 50-foot-long yacht Andromeda, rented from a harbor in northern Germany, could have served as a staging point for divers to swim down to the pipelines on the bed of the Baltic Sea and rig them with explosives. The boat carried traces of explosives when investigators examined it.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was under suspicion of ordering the sabotage early on, though no evidence has been found connecting Russia with the explosions. It is unclear what motive Putin would have to carry out the attack, and skeptics have pointed out that if Russia wanted the pipelines offline, it could have cut off the supply of fuel.
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Putin has dismissed reports that suggested Ukraine or pro-Ukraine militants were responsible for sabotaging the pipeline.
“One should always look for those who are interested. And who is interested? Theoretically, of course, the United States is interested,” Putin said. The Russian president added that whoever was responsible needed state support to pull it off.
The United States has been pointed to as a potential culprit, earning early suspicion because of some of President Joe Biden’s past opposition to Nord Stream and his pledge to “stop it.” Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, who won a 1970 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting, but whose later journalism has been strongly questioned, reported in February that the United States sabotaged the pipeline with help from Norway.
The U.S. and Norway have denied Hersh’s report, which has not been corroborated. “This is false and complete fiction,” White House spokeswoman Adrienne Watson told Hersh.