The Biden administration knew of a detailed Ukrainian plan to sabotage Russia’s Nord Stream pipeline three months before it was bombed, according to documents leaked online, allegedly by Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira.
The CIA learned last June, through an unidentified European spy agency, that a six-person team of Ukrainian special operations troops intended to blow up the Russia-to-Germany natural gas project in the Baltic Sea, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.
It is unclear whether the US, Germany or any of the other countries apprised of the plot attempted to thwart the attack or put pressure on Kyiv to pull the plug on the mission.
Several underwater explosions ended up rupturing the Nord Stream 1 and the newly built Nord Stream 2 pipelines three months later, in September 2022 — an attack that Washington and NATO called “an act of sabotage.”
It has yet to be determined who actually carried out the attack, with some aspects of it similar to and others different from the Ukrainian plot.
In March, the New York Times, quoting US officials, reported that intelligence suggested that a pro-Ukraine group was responsible for the pipeline bombings but that there was no evidence that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky or his top aides were involved in the plot.
A new report obtained by the Washington Post appears to confirm that Zelensky was kept in the dark about the June plot, which was allegedly led by Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces.
The documents cited by the Washington Post on Tuesday were shared on the chat platform Discord, allegedly by Teixeira, 21, who was arrested in April and charged under the Espionage Act with leaking hundreds of classified and sensitive government documents related to the war in Ukraine and other matters of national security.
The outlet said it acquired a copy of the documents addressing the Nord Stream intel from one of Teixeira’s online friends.
The intelligence report was based on information obtained from a Ukrainian national, the outlet said, adding that the CIA shared the summary with Germany and other European countries in June 2022.
White House spokesperson John Kirby said Tuesday that investigations into the Nord Stream attack are active.
“The last thing that we’re going to want to do from this podium is get ahead of those investigations,” Kirby said.
The specific details contained in the document included the number of operatives and methods of attack, according to the outlet.
The Ukrainian whistleblower, who has not been named, said six members of Ukraine’s special forces were planning to travel abroad on false passports, rent a boat and then dive to the floor of the Baltic Sea to blow up the pipeline.
They were going to bring along oxygen as well as helium, which is used for deep dives.
According to the reporting, the clandestine operatives reported directly to Gen. Zaluzhnyi, suggesting that the operation was sanctioned by the highest levels of the military.
But according to the document, the Ukrainian plan was “put on hold” for reason.
Then in September 2023, sections of the two pipelines that link Russia and Germany across the Baltic Sea exploded.
The blasts occurred in the economic zones of Sweden and Denmark. Both countries say the explosions were deliberate but have yet to determine who was responsible. The two countries as well as Germany are investigating the incident.
It was believed early on that the attack was state-sponsored by a country because of its sophistication, which required the placing of explosives deep below the surface of the Baltic and detonating them while escaping undetected.
German law-enforcement officials tasked with getting to the bottom of it said key details related to the pipeline explosions mirror those outlined in the intelligence report.
According to the German investigators, six people suspected of sabotaging the pipelines used fake identities to rent a yacht called Andromeda, sailed from a Germany port city and detonated the pipelines. The culprits were likely experienced divers, considering that the explosives were planted at a depth of 240 feet.
Detectives found explosive residue aboard the yacht and linked Ukrainian nationals to the rental of the vessel through a third party in Poland.
It is believed that at least one Ukrainian service member was involved in the sabotage.
But there were also some differences between the June plot laid out in the intelligence report and the September operation, including the fact that the document makes no mention of a planned attack on Nord Stream 2, only Nord Stream 1, even though both were ultimately bombed.
Also according to the summary, the divers were supposed to set sail from a different location in Europe than the one from which the attackers embarked in September.
The newspaper said officials in multiple countries had confirmed that the intelligence summary posted on Discord accurately stated what the European service told the CIA.
The Post could not immediately confirm the intelligence cited by the Washington Post.
Ukraine has previously denied involvement in the Nord Stream incident. Moscow blamed the West, accusing investigators of dragging their feet and trying to conceal who was behind the attack.
With Post wires
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