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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Ukrainian defense minister denies links to Nord Stream sabotage

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov speaks during a news conference in Kyiv on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.    (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

BRUSSELS — Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov on Wednesday denied his country’s involvement in the sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines last year.

“This is not our activity,” Reznikov said at a meeting of EU defense ministers in Stockholm. Expressing confidence in ongoing international investigations, he said the reports were “like a compliment for our special forces.”

An investigation from German public broadcasters ARD and SWR and Die Zeit newspaper linked Ukraine to the explosions in September 2022 at the two gas pipelines running between Russia and Germany.

Authorities in Germany, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United States were involved in the investigations, Die Zeit reported.

According to media reports, including in The New York Times, investigators have so far found no evidence of who ordered the destruction. However, citing intelligence leads, they said a pro-Ukrainian group could be responsible.

The Times reported that the U.S. has “no evidence” linking the attack to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy or his top aides.

Reznikov said he was not concerned that the reports could put a dent in Western support for Ukraine.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said it was important to distinguish if the Ukrainian group was acting “without the knowledge of the government” in Ukraine.

Pistorius also cautioned “against jumping to conclusions” and warned the sabotage may have been a false flag operation.

In a so-called false flag operation, perpetrators deliberately lay false tracks that point to other actors as a form of misdirection.

The mysterious explosions at the Baltic Sea pipelines connecting Russia to Germany occurred in September 2022.

Natural gas rapidly escaped, even though neither pipeline was actually delivering gas amid an energy standoff between the European Union and Russia.

Moscow denies being behind the incident and has suggested another actor, such as the U.S., would have the most to benefit from an attack on the energy infrastructure.