The Danish Armed Forces have confirmed that a Russian ship was sighted and photographed to the east of Bornholm Island on Sep. 22, in an area close to the site of the explosion that ruptured the Nord Stream pipeline four days later.
The vessel has been identified as the SS-750 Crane Ship, registered to the Russian Federation and operated by the Russian Government Aux Service Fleet. The ship, which was built in 1990, is designed for specialized underwater operations and is equipped with an AS-26 Priz mini-submarine.
The Danish military told the Dagbladet Information newspaper that 26 photos were taken of the vessel from a Danish patrol boat.
Earlier, T-Online, a German media outlet, and Open-Source Intelligence analyst Oliver Alexander said that SS-750 was one of six Russian military ships that might have been in the area in the days leading up to the Nord Stream explosion.
A Priz mini-submarine/Photo: Wikicommons
The incident, which Swedish authorities have previously confirmed was a deliberate act of sabotage, spawned several theories as to the identity and allegiance of the culprits, with Russia, the U.S. and a pro-Ukrainian group all alleged to have been involved.
The Kremlin, the White House and the Ukrainian government have all strenuously denied involvement.
Russian dictator Vladimir Putin claimed that “Anglo-Saxons” were behind the “act of sabotage,” while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Ukraine was not involved in the explosions and suggested that those who would wish to blame Ukraine were “worth investigating.”
In February, veteran US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh said the US was behind the blasts and that Norway had assisted. The White House dismissed Hersh's report, which cited an unnamed source, as "complete fiction". Oslo has also rejected the allegations as false.
In March, the New York Times reported that US officials had seen new intelligence indicating that a "pro-Ukrainian group" was responsible for the sabotage. The NYT article said US officials had no evidence implicating Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the pipeline bombing, and it did not identify the source of the intelligence or the group involved.
Separately, German media reports published late Tuesday said German investigators believed that the unidentified group was made up of five men and one woman using professionally falsified passports.
According to the German reports, a yacht was used in the incident and was rented out by a company based in Poland, belonging to two Ukrainians.
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