Meanwhile, there have been four punctures along the Nord Stream gas pipeline. Experts and politicians are adamant that there can be only one reason for the leaks – sabotage. “All available information suggests that the leaks are the result of deliberate actions,” said European foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on behalf of the 27 EU member states. The big question is who did the sabotage?
While many experts point to Russia as the perpetrator, social media users claim that the US is behind the alleged sabotage. As an argument, they point to the presence of American naval units in the waters of the Baltic Sea. Similar statements are also made by representatives of the right-wing populist party “Alternative for Germany” (AzG). Some of their claims have even gone viral in the past few days, reports “Mother well“.
Claim: “There are also coincidences…” wrote a user in Telegram, who claimed that an American helicopter, carrying out flight number FFAB123, flew on September 2 over Nord Stream 2, and more precisely – over the places from which now gas is leaking. The original post by Russian think tank Watfor about the US helicopter has so far had 1.7 million reads. The information spread quickly on Twitter as well. Did an American helicopter really carry out the sabotage?
Fact Check: The information is misleading
For now, it remains completely unclear who is behind the alleged sabotage of the pipes. According to DV, the named helicopter is not included in the accounts for purely geographical reasons: the Danish Maritime Administration has the exact geocoordinates of three of the four pipelines breached. The fourth gas leak was discovered by the Swedish Coast Guard, and its exact coordinates have not yet been made public.
The second step of the DV verification involves tracking the trajectory of flight FFAB123 using the specialized Flightaware software. This check showed that there was such a flyby recorded east of Bornholm Island on September 2, matching the social media posts. But when the geocoordinates of this flight and the Nord Stream leaks are compared, a completely different picture emerges from the one in the posts in question.
FFAB123 did not fly over the pipeline, not even close to where the gas is now leaking. In particular, the northern leaks are located at a great distance from the route of flight FFAB123 – according to our calculations, 9 and 30 kilometers from the locations of the holes, respectively.
Bottom line: The Russian think tank’s viral claim on Telegram that an American helicopter on flight FFAB123 caused the gas leaks is unconfirmed and misleading. The helicopter in question did not approach the locations of the pipe breakers at all.
It remains unclear who sabotaged the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, but aerial sabotage seems unlikely. German maritime security expert and frigate captain Goran Swistek believes the explosions were more likely caused by explosive devices that may have been placed on the pipes using underwater devices. “I know from personal experience that in recent years, Russia has been implementing an ambitious program to explore the underwater world,” Svistek said in an interview with ZDF television. It was with such underwater drones that Russia recently carried out tests near important communication cables along the bottom of the North Sea and in the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean.