A convoy of six Russian warships was seen near the Nord Stream pipeline just five days before it was sabotaged, it was reported yesterday.
Three of the four pipelines carrying Russian gas to Germany were badly damaged by explosions near the Danish island of Bornholm on September 26 last year, disrupting global supplies.
Russia has always denied any responsibility for the attack and blamed Western powers or Ukrainian groups, but new information now suggests its ships were in the area in the days before the massive explosions.
It is believed that hundreds of kilograms of explosives and equipment would have been required to achieve the magnitude of the damage seen last September, which occurred 80 meters below sea level.
But it has now been claimed that a Swedish warship may have seen the Russian convoy and followed it, possibly being aware of it for three days. The times reports.
Gas bubbles from the Nord Stream 2 leak reach the surface of the Baltic Sea in September
Three of the four pipelines carrying Russian gas to Germany were badly damaged by explosions near the Danish island of Bornholm on September 26 last year. Pictured: An onshore part of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline
The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines connecting Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea suffered a series of unexplained explosions last September in what Moscow called an act of “international terrorism.”
A report from open source intelligence researchers now claims to have identified abnormal activity by a Danish patrol boat and a Swedish warship, which may suggest they detected suspicious activity.
Investigators say the ships appeared to have seen something unusual on September 22 or 23, when they were allegedly tracking a contingent of Russian naval ships that had been detached from a larger exercise three days earlier.
These claims, first revealed on the German news site T-Online, originated from sources in the security services and detailed the convoy which included two Russian tugs, a surveillance ship and an SS-750 underwater rescue ship, built in 1990.
The SS-750 has its own mini-submarine, named AS-26, which can reach depths of 80m and carry payloads of up to 50kg.
“It would make a lot of sense to use something like the AS-26 for such an attack,” Danish lieutenant commander and military analyst Johannes Riber told T-Online.
“That would be the most plausible explanation so far for what happened to the Nord Stream pipeline.”
The navigation data that is publicly available can only support part of the researchers’ extensive records, which track the movements of Russian ships, including the SS-750.
Russia has said it has no interest in attacking its own infrastructure.
It is unknown exactly who is behind the attack, with other theories blaming the CIA or elite pro-Ukrainian commando units.
just two days ago a mysterious object was discovered near the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
A satellite image shows gas from the Nord Stream pipeline bubbling into the water after the explosions.
German, Swedish and Danish authorities are investigating the underwater explosions that caused four leaks in the two Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea in September, seven months after Russia invaded Ukraine.
The Danish energy agency released a photo late Thursday of a cylindrical object near the Nord Stream 2 pipeline on the seabed.
The agency said it is “possible” that the object is a maritime smoke buoy, 16 inches (40 cm) high and 4 inches (10 cm) wide, and that it “does not pose an immediate security risk.”
“In order to further clarify the nature of the object, the Danish authorities have decided to save the object with the help of the Danish Defence,” it said in a statement.
The agency added that it was still waiting for a response from the pipeline’s owner, the majority Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom, before beginning the recovery operation.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed the device, which was found 19 miles from the site, could be explosive and pointed the finger at the US.
“Experts believe that this could be an antenna to receive a signal to detonate an explosive device, which could be placed under the pipeline system,” Putin said.