New revelations in the investigation into the sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines suggest the involvement of several Ukrainian nationals, according to the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung. But that does not mean, however, that kyiv is the cause.

This is one of the politically and diplomatically most sensitive issues of the moment. Efforts to find those responsible for the sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines in September 2022 would have significantly tightened the nets around at least two Ukrainians, according to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, after an investigation published on Sunday May 21 and conducted with other German, Polish and Danish media.

This case has seen a slew of suspects since authorities in Germany, Sweden and Denmark seized on it in October 2022. Russians were first charged, then Brits, Ukrainians and even Americans were also charged. cause. Everyone seemed to have a reason for wanting to sabotage this famous and controversial pipeline. But the concrete clues were lacking to tip the scales in favor of one or the other of the theories.

Fictitious travel agency

The veil would begin to lift, says the Süddeutsche Zeitung. It all starts with a mysterious travel agency. Located in a quiet little street in Warsaw, Feeria Lwowa boasts of working with several tour operators.

Only problem: on site, there is only a “very small room, with three computers and some documents”, noted the German daily. The same address is, moreover, shared by a hundred other companies.

Feeria Lwowa therefore has everything from the fictitious company. However, it would represent “the most promising lead for German investigators to discover who is behind the sabotage”, learned the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

It is indeed through this fake travel agency that the yacht Andromeda was rented, used by a team of six people suspected for several months of being responsible for the sabotage.

Revelations from the German magazine Der Spiegel and the North American daily newspapers Wall Street Journal and New York Times had begun to detail, in March 2023, the strange journey undertaken by Andromeda a few days before the explosion, on September 26, 2022.

The six suspects – some of whom presented Ukrainian passports to port authorities – boarded this 15-meter-long yacht in Rostock, northern Germany.

One of their stopovers is of particular interest to investigators. The Andromeda stopped for some time off the Danish island of Christianso, which is near the sites of the three explosions that damaged the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines.

The six suspects also left on board the yacht traces of an explosive “of military quality and which can be used under water”, according to the conclusions of the investigators, affirms the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The most promising lead?

But these individuals have disappeared from circulation. The Feeria Lwowa track thus appears to be the most promising in an attempt to trace the perpetrators of this sabotage. Especially since it has already identified at least two people.

The first is a 55-year-old Ukrainian who confirmed to the Süddeutsche Zeitung that she has been the director of Feeria Lwowa since 2021. But this woman also appears as the head of other front companies in Poland and Ukraine. “For the German authorities, she is a straw woman who allows the real responsible to remain in the shadows”, notes the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The investigators also managed to identify one of the crew members of the Andromeda, thanks to the passports which were transmitted to the owner of the yacht by the agency Feeria Lwowa. The identity documents are fake, but some information has enabled the authorities to discover that one of them, who presented himself as a Romanian, is in fact a Ukrainian from a town south of Kiev and currently engaged on the front against Russia.

“This is the most complete information to date on the potential perpetrators of this sabotage,” said Jeff Hawn, specialist in Russian security issues and consultant for the New Line Institute, an American center for geopolitical research.

Other tracks have emerged over the months, starting with the thesis of Russian responsibility. A hypothesis based on an abnormally high number of Russian military tugs around the scene of the explosions. But “it’s a lead that seems cold to German investigators. They analyzed, with the help of the army, the movements of these boats without being able to detect any abnormal behavior”, notes the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Washington was also accused of blowing up a gas pipeline that the United States has always denounced. This thesis supported by Seymour Hersh, a North American investigative journalist who received the Pulitzer Prize in 1970, has been officially denied by the White House.

The mystery remains on the originator

But if the new revelations seem to dissipate some clouds, “they only allow to have a more precise idea of ​​the facade put in place to execute the plan”, nuance Jeff Hawn. The operational aspect seems to involve several Ukrainians, but this is not “irrefutable proof that kyiv is the principal”, adds this expert.

The investigators “believe that the level of professionalism and preparation suggest that a state intelligence service is involved”, underlines the New York Times, which was the first media to mention the Ukrainian track.

“Nothing prevents the American, Polish or even Russian intelligence services from having recruited Ukrainians to carry out their plans”, assures Jeff Hawn. The use of foreign nationals is a common practice in the history of the secret services, especially Russian ones. For him, discovering the pharmacy that pulled the strings behind the scenes may take years.

As long as the war rages in Ukraine, there is little chance of having the end of the matter, estimates the Wall Street Journal. Especially if it turns out that the operation was actually decided by kyiv. “Any evidence of direct Ukrainian involvement may have soured the unity of Western support for Ukraine. Such a scenario would be particularly sensitive in Germany, which took time to abandon its pacifist position to support Ukraine”, adds the North American daily.