Was Pipeline Sabotage A ‘False Flag’ To Blame Ukraine? German Defense Chief Raises Theory


A top German official Wednesday said the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline may have been a “false flag operation” designed to blame Ukraine, and warned against reaching premature conclusions about the incident after reports emerged that pro-Ukrainian actors may have been behind the explosions that destroyed the key pipelines.

Key Facts

In an interview with German public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk, the country’s Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said a clear distinction needs to be made on whether the sabotage was carried out by a group acting on Kyiv’s orders or a pro-Ukrainian group working without the knowledge of Ukraine’s leadership.

Pistorius said there was an “equally high” probability that the whole operation was a “false flag” staged to place blame on Ukraine.

Pistorius, who is in Stockholm to attend a meeting of EU defense ministers, also refused to speculate what impact the findings of any investigation on the sabotage would have on Germany’s support for Ukraine.

Pistorius’ Ukrainian counterpart Oleksiy Reznikov, who is also attending the Stockholm meeting, dismissed reports of Ukrainian involvement, telling reporters “this is not our activity.”

The German Federal Prosecutor’s office on Wednesday said it had carried out a search in January of a ship suspected of carrying explosives used to destroy the pipelines.

Authorities said they seized items from the ship following the search and are still investigating the identity and motives of the suspected perpetrators, although it is unclear if any arrests have been made.

Key Background

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported U.S. intelligence suggests a pro-Ukrainian group may have been responsible for carrying out the explosions that damaged the key undersea pipelines that carried natural gas from Russia to Germany. According to the report, U.S. intelligence officials believe the perpetrators were either Ukrainian or Russian nationals—or a combination of both. The intelligence, however, found no link between the perpetrators and the Ukrainian government, indicating that they may have been acting independently in opposition to Russia and its leader Vladimir Putin.

News Peg

German newspaper Zeit and broadcaster ARD, citing unnamed sources, reported the sabotage was carried out by five men and one woman. The perpetrators reportedly used forged passports and rented a yacht based in Poland to carry out the sabotage. The report noted that the yacht belong to a Polish firm owned by two Ukrainians but the nationality of the perpetrators is unclear.

Crucial Quote

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who is visiting Iraq, also expressed caution about coming to any swift conclusions and said Berlin was “very intensely following any new reports and any insights obtained by different actors.” She added those in charge “can carry out their investigations in peace, and that the government can reach a verdict on the basis of their work, rather than prematurely drawing conclusions from [media] reports.”

Further Reading

Traces lead to Ukraine (ARD)

Nord Stream: German authorities searched ship for explosives (Deutsche Welle)

Pistorius: We’re giving away almost everything we have (Deutschlandfunk)

U.S. Thinks Pro-Ukrainian Group Blew Up Nord Stream Pipelines, Report Say (Forbes)

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/siladityaray/2023/03/08/was-pipeline-sabotage-a-false-flag-to-blame-ukraine-german-defense-chief-raises-theory/