The White House – which has also been accused of the attack – refused to say whether it tried to stop the alleged plot FILE PHOTO: General Valery Zaluzhny attends a session of parliament in Kiev, Ukraine, December 28, 2022 © AFP / Ukrainian Presidential Press Service
American spies knew for months that Ukrainian state operatives planned on destroying the Nord Stream gas pipelines, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday, citing leaked Pentagon documents. While the report implicates Kiev in the act of sabotage, it does not disprove the theory – put forward by journalist Seymour Hersh – that the US took out the pipelines.
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.
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 CIA learned of the plot from an unnamed European intelligence agency with an agent in Ukraine, the newspaper claimed, citing Pentagon documents shared on a Discord server in February by a US Air National Guard member.
Ukrainian officials, who have previously claimed that Russia destroyed its own pipeline, did not respond to the Washington Post’s request for comment. The CIA likewise remained silent, and the White House refused to answer when asked “whether US officials tried to stop the mission from proceeding.”
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.
The yacht appears again in the Washington Post’s latest report, only in this telling, the would-be bombers planned on renting it from a port in a different European country. The Post’s report does not offer any evidence exculpating the US from eventually carrying out the bombing.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in March that he “fully agrees” with Hersh’s conclusions. Prior to the publication of Hersh’s report, Putin blamed the explosions on “the Anglo-Saxons,” a Russian colloquialism for the US-UK transatlantic alliance. The Russian president argued that the US in particular benefited from the attack due to its position as a competing gas supplier to Europe.