The Washington Post has reported that the U.S Administration learned from a close ally that the Ukrainian military had planned to attack the Nordstream gas pipeline three months before the undersea pipeline was bombed.
The U.S media company stated that the CIA learned last June, via an European spy agency that a six-person team of Ukrainian special operations forces intended to sabotage the Russia-to-Germany natural gas project.
The CIA is reported to have declined to comment on the news.
The White House was also reported to have declined to comment on a detailed set of questions about the European report and alleged Ukrainian military plot, including whether U.S officials tried to stop the mission from proceeding.
The European intelligence made clear that the would-be attackers were not rogue operatives. All those involved reported directly to Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, the country’s highest-ranking military officer, who was put in charge so that Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, wouldn’t know about the operation, the intelligence report said.
The Ukrainian individual that informed the European intelligence service in June said that six members of Ukraine’s special operations forces using false identities intended to rent a boat and, using a submersible vehicle, dive to the floor of the Baltic Sea then damage or destroy the pipeline and escape undetected. In addition to oxygen, the team planned to bring helium, which is recommended for especially deep dives.
The story is similar to earlier reporting by the New York Times, which claimed in March that a “pro-Ukrainian group” took out the gas lines, and by Germany’s Der Spiegel, which claimed that the group used a rented yacht to transport explosives to the blast site.
These theories have been contradicted by American reporter Seymour Hersh, who claimed in February that the Biden administration ordered the CIA to bomb the conduits with the help of the Norwegian Navy. The rented yacht story, Hersh said afterwards, was planted in the US and German media as a red herring by the CIA and its German counterpart, the BND.
Three months earlier, the Post reported, “the Biden administration learned from a close ally that the Ukrainian military had planned a covert attack on the undersea network, using a small team of divers who reported directly to the commander in chief of the Ukrainian armed forces,” General Valery Zaluzhny.
The Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines were destroyed in a series of near-simultaneous explosions off the Danish island of Bornholm in September. The blasts severed a key conduit for Russian natural gas to Europe, effectively removing the possibility of European countries lifting their sanctions on Moscow and restarting gas purchases.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called the “unprecedented sabotage” of the Nord Stream natural-gas pipelines “an act of international terrorism.”
Some Biden administration officials initially suggested that Russia was to blame for what President Biden called “a deliberate act of sabotage,” promising that the United States would work with its allies “to get to the bottom of exactly what… happened.”
On February 7 2022, before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, U.S President Joe Biden had stated that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline would be halted if Russia invades Ukraine.
Biden administration officials now privately concede there is no evidence that conclusively points to Moscow’s involvement. But publicly they have deflected questions about who might be responsible.
European officials in several countries have quietly suggested that Ukraine was behind the attack, but resisted publicly saying so over fears that blaming Kyiv could fracture the alliance against Russia.
Russian state-owned gas conglomerate, Gazprom owns 51 percent of Nord Stream, while Western energy companies, including from Germany, France and the Netherlands, are partners and invested billions in the pipelines.
Nnamdi Maduakor is a Writer, Investor and Entrepreneur