The Biden administration received an intelligence report that Ukraine had a plan for an attack on the Nord Stream pipelines three months before an underwater explosion disabled the natural gas link from Russia to Germany, the Washington Post has reported.
A European intelligence service told the CIA that the Ukrainian military was planning an attack using a small team of divers who reported directly to the commander in chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, the paper reported.
The six-person team reported directly to Gen Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the report claimed, so that president Volodymyr Zelenskiy would not know about the operation.
The Washington Post report was based on a larger leak of secret documents that was shared by a US armed services member on the chat platform Discord. The reports, posted online by Air National Guard member Jack Teixeira, first came from a European intelligence agency later shared with the US and then Germany and then were corroborated by security officials from a number of countries, the Washington Post reported.
It remains disputed who carried out the attacks, which took place in September against the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea between Russia and Germany. Many European governments have suspected Russia, while Vladimir Putin has blamed the US and its allies. Ukraine has strenuously denied any link to the attacks.
The intelligence, if true, would shed light on one of the murkiest incidents of Russia’s 15-month-old war in Ukraine, which has left Ukrainians fighting for their survival against one of the world’s largest standing armies.
The US and other foreign allies have given Ukraine weapons and other support but have said it wants the weapons to be used to liberate Ukrainian territory and have generally warned against other targets, including civilian infrastructure.
But the US had publicly opposed the new Nord Stream 2 project, putting pressure on Germany to halt its final authorisation shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022.
The intelligence report shared with the CIA was drafted in June 2022, the paper reported. The paper described a plot similar to one now being considered by German investigators: six men using false identities sailed a small boat into the Baltic Sea and, using diving equipment including helium supplies for especially deep dives, planted explosives that severed the pipeline.
But other details differ between the intelligence report and versions of the attack now being considered by German authorities. The information was sourced to an unidentified individual from Ukraine. – Guardian