Several outlets claim to have identified two individuals potentially connected to the sabotage
At least two Ukrainian nationals are linked to a yacht which German authorities are allegedly investigating in connection with the Nord Stream explosions last September, media outlets in Switzerland and Germany have reported. A Swiss newspaper previously claimed that traces of military-grade explosives had been detected on board the vessel.
The allegations were made in articles published on Sunday by Switzerland's Tages-Anzeiger newspaper and Germany's Suddeutsche Zeitung.
Tages-Anzeiger claimed it had tracked down what appeared to be a shell company, Feeria Lwowa, which allegedly charted the vessel in question - the Andromeda - last fall. Based in the Polish capital Warsaw, the firm purports to operate as a tourist agency, but apparently has no telephone number, no website, and no employees, the outlet stated.
According to Tages-Anzeiger, the company is registered in the name of two Ukrainians, one of whom lives in Crimea and has Russian citizenship. The person denied any involvement with Feeria Lwowa when questioned by the paper over the phone.
The second person is a woman described in Polish records as the president of the company. She confirmed to Tages-Anzeiger that she held that position, but declined to answer further questions. The article claimed that there were several other companies registered in her name in Poland and Ukraine.
Tages-Anzeiger reported that the Andromeda has been at the center of German authorities' investigation for some time. While its exact route remains unknown, it is believed that the vessel had passed through the area where explosions later destroyed the two Nord Stream gas pipelines, the report alleged.
According to the paper, investigators found traces of explosives that could be used underwater aboard the vessel, echoing claims in a report in the New York Times in April. In addition, officials reportedly identified one of the six crew members, who had presented fake Romanian and Bulgarian passports, as a 26-year-old Ukrainian man originally from a town southeast of Kiev. The individual allegedly serves in the Ukrainian armed forces.
Tages-Anzeiger suggested that German investigators are leaning toward the version that a state intelligence service was involved in the attack. Authorities are also skeptical that Russia might have been behind the blast, the paper claimed.
Earlier this month, high-ranking Russian diplomat Konstantin Gavrilov revealed that the US had failed to respond to Moscow's request for information surrounding the case.
In early February, veteran American journalist Seymour Hersh published a bombshell report blaming the US for destroying the key gas route.
While Washington dismissed the allegations as "utterly false," Russian President Vladimir Putin said in late March that he "fully agreed" with Hersh's findings.