A European spy agency told the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) it knew of an Ukraine special operations team plan to blow up the Nord Stream gas pipeline three months before explosions damaged the undersea system last year, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
The newspaper cited US intelligence allegedly leaked earlier this year by a low-level US Air National Guard computer technician who had access to large amounts of highly classified materials.
The leaked documents indicated that an unnamed European intelligence body told the US spy agency in June 2022, four months after Russia invaded Ukraine, that Ukraine military divers reporting directly to the country’s military commander-in-chief were planning the attack.
The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, built to carry natural gas from Russia to Germany, were rocked by underwater explosions on September 26, 2022, rendering them useless and cutting off a potential source of billions of dollars in earnings for Russia.
The apparent sabotage sparked a region-wide emergency as it cut off crucial supplies of energy for Europe just as the war had sent the price of oil skyrocketing.
Accusations were made against several countries including Russia, the United States and Ukraine, but all denied responsibility.
The Post, citing unnamed officials, said that after the CIA learned of the alleged bombing plot, the United States told allies including Germany about it.
It said the original European intelligence on the plot made clear it was not a rogue operation, and that it was overseen by military chief General Valerii Zaluzhnyi without the knowledge of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The Post report is supported by information gathered by German investigators that a six-person team using false passports took a large sailboat from the German port of Rostock last September to undertake the operation.
The sailboat was rented by what appeared to be a front company.
According to German media reports last week, metadata from the emails used to rent a sailboat tie them to Ukraine, and the president of the front company also lives in Kyiv.
However, Danish media recently reported that a Russian navy vessel specialised in submarine operations was photographed near the location of the sabotage just before it happened. AFP