NATO Planes Regularly Circled Sites of Nord Stream Blasts During Baltops Exercise, Analysis Finds
01:50 GMT 11.02.2023 (Updated: 07:43 GMT 11.02.2023)
© Photo : Danish Defence CommandGas leak location on Nord Stream 2
© Photo : Danish Defence Command
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - During the NATO Baltops 22 exercise last summer, US and German navy aircraft regularly circled over the sites of future explosions on the Nord Stream pipelines, according to Sputnik’s analysis of Flightradar24 data.
On Wednesday, investigative journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh published a report saying US Navy divers during NATO Baltops exercises in the summer of 2022 planted explosives to destroy the Nord Stream pipelines, which Norway activated three months later. According to the report, US President Joe Biden decided to sabotage the Nord Streams after more than nine months of secret discussions with the national security team.
Flightradar24 data analyzed by Sputnik shows that, between June 8 and June 16 of last year, German and US maritime surveillance aircraft P-3 Orion and P-8 Poseidon carried out regular flights over the sites of future Nord Stream explosions.
The military aircraft descended to low altitudes and turned off transponders in almost every flight, so some of their trajectories remained unrecorded.
On June 8, the American Poseidon aircraft circled over the sites of three future explosions on the Nord Stream pipelines northeast of Bornholm Island. The German P-3 Orion aircraft then flew over a future blast site east of the island. On June 9, the Poseidon aircraft flew over the sites northeast and east of Bornholm.
From June 11 to June 15, the US Poseidon aircraft circled precisely over the sites of future Nord Stream sabotage acts every day, often making many turns and loops at low altitude. On June 16, the German P-3 Orion flew over the area.
The minimum flight altitude of US and German military aircraft over the Baltic Sea around the location of the gas pipelines was less than 600 meters (0.4 miles). However, it could have been even lower in those parts of the flights that were not recorded by the open monitoring system.
On September 26, 2022, three of the four strings of the Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines were damaged after an underwater blast. The pipeline's operator Nord Stream AG reported that the damage was unprecedented and it was impossible to estimate the timeframe for repairs.
Germany, Denmark, and Sweden launched separate investigations into the suspected sabotage, with German media reporting trust issues among the three EU nations. The Russian chief prosecutor's office said it had opened an inquiry into possible international terrorism.