BERLIN: Investigators looking at the explosions on the Nord Stream gas pipelines from Russia have evidence that could link the attack to Ukraine, according to German media reports.
Metadata from the emails used to rent a sailboat suspected to have been used in the attack tie them to Ukraine, Spiegel weekly reported Friday.
The president of the presumed shell company through which the “Andromeda” yacht was hired also lives in Kyiv, according to research by broadcasters NDR and WDR, daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and international media partners.
German investigators had also identified a Ukrainian man in his mid-twenties with ties to the military who they believe may have been part of the six-person team manning the yacht, according to the joint report.
The links to Ukraine corresponded with assessments by multiple intelligence services, according to Spiegel.
The agencies were examining whether the attack could have been carried out by an independent Ukrainian commando group or if a government-backed unit was more likely, the weekly said.
Western countries were quick to blame the explosions under the Baltic Sea on Russia following the incident, while the Kremlin has accused the West of sabotage.
German, Swedish and Danish authorities have been investigating the blasts that sparked the leaks.
Meanwhile, Russian missiles hit a medical clinic in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro, killing at least two people as Russia blamed Kyiv for dozens of strikes on its southern Belgorod region.
In Russia, the governor of the southern region of Belgorod said the Ukrainian military was responsible for dozens of artillery, mortar and drone attacks across the territory but reported no casualties.
In Ukraine, a video distributed by officials showed a blaze ripping through a two-storey building after the attack that the governor said had left some 23 people injured, including two small boys.
“We must defeat these inhumans irrevocably and as soon as possible. Because our time is our people,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a statement.
“And our people are the most precious thing in Ukraine.”
First Lady Olena Zelenska said the Russian strike had hit a psychiatric ward of the hospital.
The Russian defence ministry said only that recent strikes on Ukraine had targeted arms depots and that all the assigned targets had been hit.
Russia’s foreign ministry meanwhile was expecting a visit to Moscow on Friday by China’s special envoy for Ukraine, Li Hui, as part of Beijing’s latest effort to broker an end to the fighting.
Li’s visit to the Russian capital, where he is expected to meet Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, comes after he met with Ukraine’s Zelensky in Kyiv.