eugyppius: NORD STREAM UPDATE: Spiegel, after running multiple stories blaming the Nord Stream attack on "Russian ships", reverses course and points the finger once again at Ukraine
by Paul Alexander
‘Der Spiegel, after running multiple stories peddling the canard that mysterious “Russian ships” were implicated in the Nord Stream attacks of 26 September 2022, has in a familiar pattern now totally reversed course and declared instead that there is increasing evidence pointing to Ukrainian attackers. They report that the theory of a Russian “false-flag operation,” to which they’ve given so much attention, is in fact “considered extremely unlikely” by “those familiar with the case.” The key evidence is unspecified “email metadata” from the mysterious parties who rented the Andromeda.
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The investigators of the Public Prosecutor General Peter Frank … are now certain that the sailing yacht “Andromeda” was used for the attack. She sailed from Rostock-Warnemünde in early September 2022 and returned after the attacks. Forged identity documents were apparently used for her charter.
Remains of an underwater explosive were found across a large area of the cabin of the “Andromeda.” It is said to be octogen, an explosive widely used both in the West and in the former Eastern Bloc. …
Octogen is much lighter than TNT, capable of transport in a relatively small boat. Experienced combat divers could have placed it at the site of the attack on the bottom of the Baltic. The often-heard argument, that the weight of the explosives would have required a larger ship and perhaps a miniature submarine, is therefore no longer convincing.
The traces found by the Federal Criminal Police Office align with the assessments of several intelligence services, according to which the perpetrators hail from the Ukraine. Intelligence services have also asked whether the attack could have been carried out by an uncontrolled commando, or by Ukrainian intelligence services – and to what extent elements of the Ukrainian state apparatus may have been implicated. ,,,
Even before the attacks, the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) received a warning from the American CIA that were indications Ukrainian perpetrators were planning an attack on the pipelines. The BND did not, however, consider the reports to be very credible.
The story, picked up within hours by multiple German press outlets, follows slightly earlier reporting from the Süddeutsche Zeitung and German state media broadcasters WDR and NDR that likewise claims to have evidence of Ukrainian complicity, though the details of these earlier reports are so murky and unclear, I decided it was better to ignore them at the time. Allegedly, these news organisations discovered that the entity which rented the Andromeda is a shell company masquerading as a travel agency registered in Poland. The unnamed president of this unnamed company lives in Kiev; her name is also on the paperwork of various other companies, and so it seems likely she’s merely a frontman who has no specific involvement with the firm.
The same journalists also reported that, among the forged passports used to rent the Andromeda, was a Romanian document in the name of a certain “Stefan M.”
A person with this name and date of birth appears actually to exist, but according to the findings of the BKA [the German Federal Criminal Police Office], he was likely in Romania at the time of the explosions. But who was the man who presented the passport in the Baltic? According to research by WDR, NDR, the Süddeutsche Zeitung and their media partners, German investigators believe it could be a Ukrainian national – a man in his mid-20s from a town southeast of Kiev …
Social media photos show a young man, often smiling, sometimes in military uniform with a helmet – and with conspicuous tattoos. The young Ukrainian is said to have previously served in an infantry unit. Investigators are apparently following up on other names and clues. Only one of the young man’s relatives can be reached on the phone: she says he is currently serving in the military. … So far, official Ukrainian agencies have not responded to enquiries.
So, to sum up: One of the emails sent to rent the Andromeda came from Ukraine; the shell company that rented the Andromeda is registered under the name of an unrelated Polish woman living in Kiev; and one of the forged passports presented in this transaction carried a photo that might be of a Ukrainian soldier.
The duelling narratives here are clearly more significant than the specific facts (or, “facts”) which they relate. As I noted in my last Nord Stream update, the Russian-ships theory of the attack has been put about by some source within NATO and laundered through OSINT propagandists, and it looks for all the world like an implicit attack on Hersh’s story, for it centres on the alleged movements of the SS-750, a Russian ship outfitted with a miniature submarine designed for underwater rescue operations. The subtext is that the divers of Hersh’s scenario could never have done the job.
The Andromeda story, meanwhile, hails from intelligence services, specifically the CIA and (probably at second-hand) the German BND, whence it flowed to German criminal investigators and the press. This scenario is framed as an explicit attack on the Russian-ships theory, which the anonymous Spiegel informants go out of their way to discredit. The reason, as far as I can tell, is that the Russia-did-it line has overtly escalatory potential, for it posits a Russian attack in Swedish and Danish waters on energy infrastructure that, in the case of Nord Stream 1, is even partly owned by Germany. The Andromeda story generally strives to make room for a non-state actor, thus removing the immediate diplomatic significance of the attacks. This would explain the bizarre and thinly veiled suggestion of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, back in March, that former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko may have been involved in orchestrating the explosions, because they took place on his birthday.
Once again, it remains an enduring mystery, why none of the major published scenarios – not even Seymour Hersh’s detailed account of How America Took Out the Nord Stream Pipeline – accounts for the specifics of the sabotage, which featured two sets of explosions at two separate locations, exactly 17 hours apart. John Mearsheimer recently remarked that if he “had to bet,” he’d “bet that the United States destroyed Nord Stream,” because such an action would be “completely consistent with what America’s overall policy is towards Russia.” It’s very easy to imagine that the United States would have orchestrated the attack through proxies, and it’s at least worth asking whether Hersh’s source fed him an incomplete account for the purposes of obfuscating Ukrainian involvement. On the other hand, the Andromeda theory is very hard to believe; if it is an intelligence service “cover story,” as Hersh claims, we must ask why it is so implausible.’