Vladimir Putin has dismissed claims that the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines was carried out by Ukrainian operatives and implied US involvement.
The Russian President commented on the September 26, 2022 explosions on the gas pipeline connecting Russia with Europe.
Citing US intelligence officials, Western media reports said there was evidence pro-Ukrainian groups were responsible for the blasts, although there was no evidence anyone in the Ukrainian government was involved. Kyiv has vehemently denied any involvement.
Putin told Russian state television that claims by a Ukrainian group were “utter nonsense” and that the scale and depth of the blasts “could only be carried out by specialists backed by the full power of the state”.
When asked if he thought it would be carried out by a Western state, Putin replied: “It is always necessary to look for interested parties. In theory, of course, the United States is interested in stopping Russian energy supplies to the European market and “supplying their LNG, even if it’s 25 to 30 percent more expensive.”
The explosions in the Baltic Sea pipes of the state-controlled Russian energy company Gazprom are still a mystery. The United States and NATO called the blasts “an act of sabotage” without directly blaming Moscow, which in turn has blamed the West.
The explosions took place in international waters but within the exclusive economic zones of Denmark and Sweden. The countries are still investigating the incident.
German media reported that investigators believe five men and a woman used a yacht rented from a Ukrainian company in Poland to carry out the attack.
Thomas O’Donnell, a Berlin-based geopolitical analyst and global contributor at think tank Wilson Center, said recently news week that the attack on the pipelines could play into Putin’s hands.
The Russian leader has been accused of using energy as a weapon to weaken European support for Kiev’s fight against Russian aggression, and part of that fight was believed to have involved Gazprom temporarily shutting down Nord Stream 1 in August for repairs switched off.
“He’s tried to cut off some long-term contracts through pipelines that are still intact and he’s being brought before the arbitration courts, mainly in Stockholm, which he’s obviously going to lose,” O’Donnell said.
“He tried to substantiate other cases of force majeure,” he said, referring to claims of technical problems with compressors that were denied by operator Siemens. “So they gave him force majeure from the day it blew up, which he can’t be held responsible for if he doesn’t send it.”
The German public has sided with Ukraine in its fight against Russia, but has faced higher energy costs as the country reduced its reliance on Russian energy early in Putin’s invasion.
Putin also seemed to imply that Germany was not independent when asked about Berlin’s relative silence after the attack.
“Even European politicians themselves have repeatedly publicly acknowledged that post-WWII Germany was never a fully sovereign country,” he told Russian television, according to the state news agency TASS.
news week emailed the Foreign Office for comment.