A boot resembling those used by US and Ukrainian military divers has reportedly been found near the site
A diving boot similar to those used by US and Ukrainian military divers has been found near one of the ruptured Nord Stream pipelines in the Swedish exclusive economic zone in the Baltic Sea, The Grayzone reported on Monday. A correspondent from the outlet took part in what was described as the first independent expedition to the site of the sabotage.
The independent US media outlet published a video taken from an underwater drone showing an object resembling a black-and-orange diving boot lying on the seabed near what appears to be the remains of the Russian gas pipeline.
The footage was taken on May 24, when The Grayzone's Jeffrey Brodsky traveled to the blast site aboard a vessel called the 'Baltic Explorer' as part of an expedition launched by a Swedish engineer, Erik Andersson. Another video showed Andersson launching the drone, with Brodsky sitting next to him.
The Grayzone reported that it was able to identify the boot model, which is very similar to the boots used by the US Navy. Ukrainian Navy divers trained by American specialists have also been seen wearing similar equipment, the media outlet said. Boots of similar appearance are also available at some commercial stores, though, it added.
The boot was spotted just five meters away from a small leak site in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The equipment was very similar to the Thor diver overboot produced by UK-based Northern Diver company, its military and commercial sales director, Neil Tordoff, told The Grayzone, adding, though, that he could not be totally sure of it.
"It's part of a dry-diving suit that would normally be used in contaminated water to keep the diver safe," he said, adding that "this item is used worldwide." He also said that his company stopped producing this type of equipment amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Andersson contacted Nord Stream 2 AG, the company that operated the Russian pipelines, which "clearly" denied having used divers for construction or pipeline maintenance in the area. The company also told the independent investigator that it first discovered the boot back in February 2023 and reported it to Swedish investigators.
The Grayzone also spoke to a source who had a contact with a diver from the HMS Belos, a Swedish Navy vessel that investigated the sabotage sites in October 2022. The diver involved in the Swedish investigation of the incident denied his vessel's activities were in any way related to the appearance of the boot. The Swedish investigative authorities did not comment on the media outlet's findings.
To date, no group - state body or otherwise - has accepted responsibility for the explosions that rendered three out of the four Russian undersea gas pipelines unusable in late September 2022. The incident took place soon after Moscow reduced gas supplies to Europe amid a wave of Western sanctions on Russia over its military operation in Ukraine.
In February, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh detailed evidence he claimed linked Washington to the attacks in an extensive report. Germany's Der Spiegel magazine reported on several occasions on what it called evidence linking the blasts to Ukrainian nationals.
Germany, Sweden, and Denmark each launched probes into the incident, but no meaningful results of any of those investigations have so far been made public. In May, Russia summoned the ambassadors of the three nations to protest what it called a "complete lack of results" in the investigations.