US Navy aircraft flies near Nord Stream burst locations hours after
Reuters reveals that following the explosions that breached Nord Stream pipelines, a US Navy reconnaissance aircraft flew near the locations of the breach.
A US Navy reconnaissance aircraft flew near the site of the ruptured Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Baltic Sea hours after the first damage emerged, according to tracking data reviewed by Reuters.
Washington, however, said that the flight was routine.
On September 26, Russia's Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines burst, leaking gas into the Baltic Sea off the coast of Denmark and Sweden.
At 00:03 GMT, a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance plane flew over the North Sea when Swedish seismologists detected what they subsequently characterized as a subsurface detonation southeast of Bornholm Island in the Baltic Sea.
According to data, the aircraft flew a number of regular racetrack-shaped circuits above Poland before breaking away towards the Baltic pipeline area.
The identity of the jet could not be determined immediately due to the sort of rotating identification code adopted by these kinds of planes, but when Reuters provided evidence, the US Navy confirmed it was an American aircraft.
"The U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon aircraft shown in the tracking data conducted a routine Baltic Sea maritime reconnaissance flight, unrelated to the leaks from the Nord Stream pipelines," a US Navy spokesperson told Reuters.
When asked if any of the intelligence acquired may assist authorities looking into the pipeline breaches, Tamara Lawrence of the US Naval Forces Europe-Africa replied, "We do not have any additional information to provide at this time."
It's unclear what role, if any, the US military is taking in assisting European investigations into the pipeline blasts.
It is not the first time
Earlier in September, a US Navy Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk helicopter spent hours loitering over the location of the damaged natural gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea near Bornholm for several days in a row, September 1, 2, and 3, in particular.
Denmark's maritime traffic agency and Sweden's Maritime Authority on Monday reported a "dangerous" gas leak in the Baltic Sea close to the route of the inactive Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which experienced an unexplained drop in pressure.
The leak, southeast of the Danish island of Bornholm, "is dangerous for maritime traffic" and "navigation is prohibited within a five nautical mile radius of the reported position," the agency warned in a notice to ships.
“I would bet (the explosion) was a US action”
The majority of Western commentators have placed the responsibility for the incident on Russia, alleging that it is attempting to intensify the crisis and put pressure on Europe to end support for Kiev.
Jefferey Sachs, a top UN adviser, said “I would bet (the explosion) was a US action, perhaps US and Poland,” adding “That is speculation.”
Before he could finish his statement, Tom Keene, the Bloomberg host interviewing the economist, interrupted by saying “Jeff, we've got to stop there,” and continued, “Why do you feel that was a US action? What evidence do you have of that?”
Sachs responded “Well, first, there is direct radar evidence that US military helicopters that are normally based in Gdansk were circling over this area,” noting that “We also had the threat from the US [President Joe Biden] earlier this year that ‘one way or another we are going to end Nord Stream’.”
The Columbia professor further added that “We also had a remarkable statement from [US] Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken last Friday in a press conference where he said ‘this is also a tremendous opportunity’,” which Sachs considered “a strange way to talk if you're worried about piracy on international infrastructure of vital significance.”
Read more: Zakharova suggests Denmark, Sweden probably know pipeline saboteurs