German authorities said they searched a vessel that may have transported explosives used in the attack on the Nord Stream pipelines last year, signaling that an investigation may yield more on who was behind it.
Investigators are probing traces and items found in the search of a vessel from Jan. 18 to 20, the Federal Prosecutor said in a statement on Thursday. Germans working for the company that leased the ship are not under investigation, it said.
“The identity of the perpetrators and their motives are the subject of the ongoing investigation,” the Federal Prosecutor’s office said in a statement. “At present, it is not possible to make any statements of a concrete nature, in particular on the question of whether this was a state-sponsored action.”
The probe adds to speculation about the origin of the September attack on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which delivered natural gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea. The strike triggered a wave of accusations, with Russia blaming it on sabotage by the US, Ukraine and Poland, calling them “beneficiaries” of the blasts.
We covered a recent theory suggesting the US blew up the pipelines here. Our government officials certainly welcomed the curtailing of cheap gas to Germany.
The investigation by newspaper Die Zeit, Kontraste magazine and broadcasters ARD and SWR cited evidence yielded by the German investigation. The strike team, consisting of two divers, two assistants, a captain and a doctor, loaded the boat with explosives and laid in a course for the pipeline, the media outlets reported on Tuesday.
Investigators found traces of the explosives on a table in the ship’s cabin, the outlets reported, saying it indicated a hurried attempt to hide their tracks. The rental was tied to a Polish company owned by two Ukrainians, according to the investigation.
An western intelligence service that wasn’t identified told allies shortly after the attack on Sept. 26 that a pro-Ukrainian group was likely involved, the outlets reported.