The CIA warned Ukraine not to follow through with a plan to attack the Nord Sream gas pipelines sometime last summer after uncovering a detailed plot that could disrupt Russian energy exports to Europe, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing officials familiar with the communication.
Ukraine has denied involvement in the September 2022 explosions damaging both Nord Stream 1 and 2 natural gas pipelines, and the Biden administration has not lodged official accusations against any country. But CIA officials received a tip from the Netherlands that July of the plot out of Kyiv and considered it credible enough to deliver an admonition against following through, the WSJ reported, citing the officials.
The CIA harbored doubts that Ukraine could successfully carry out the complex operation, which would require planting explosives deep in the Baltic Sea, according to the WSJ. (RELATED: State Department Says Nord Stream 2 ‘Will Not Move Forward’ If Russia Invades Ukraine)
The Washington Post reported last week that the Biden administration knew of a Ukrainian plot to destroy the Nord Stream 1 pipeline months before the explosions, citing documents obtained from a mass intelligence leak.
That intelligence reported Ukrainian Armed Forces’ Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi oversaw the planned operation to ensure President Volodymyr Zelenskyy remained unaware and could plausibly deny responsibility, according to the Post. Ukraine opposed the Nord Stream project because the pipelines allowed Russia to bypass Ukraine when exporting natural gas to Europe, boosting Russia’s export revenue.
Major NATO drills referred to as Baltic Ops scheduled to take place in the region just above the pipelines would precede the operation, the WSJ reported, citing European intelligence officials.
The tip from the Netherlands’ military intelligence agency indicated Ukrainian operators planned to rent a yacht, sail it out to the pipelines and deploy a team of divers to plant the explosives after Baltic Ops ended on June 17, according to the WSJ.
In response, the CIA notified European allies, including Germany, of the plan in some detail in June, while providing somewhat more vague notifications to Baltic coastline countries, according to the WSJ. Then the CIA asked their Ukrainian counterparts to confirm the plan, but the response remains unclear.
A U.S. official said the CIA thereafter learned Ukraine canceled the operation, according to the WSJ. The U.S. intelligence agency downgraded the threat assessment of an attack on the Nord Stream pipelines, believing Ukraine no longer intended to carry out its plans, European officials familiar with the assessment told the outlet.
But on Sept. 26, three explosions tore holes into three of the four pipelines that comprise the Nord Stream 1 and 2 systems.
A spokesperson for Ukraine’s military intelligence bureau, Andriy Chernyak, denied Ukraine’s involvement when approached with reports of the CIA warning by the WSJ.
“I believe that our military and our intelligence did not do it, and when anyone claims the opposite, I would like them to show us the evidence,” Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said recently, according to the WSJ.
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