NewsA twist in the Nord Stream sabotage case? "Washington Post" alleges to hold evidence

A twist in the Nord Stream sabotage case? "Washington Post" alleges to hold evidence

The case of damage to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is still being investigated.
The case of damage to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is still being investigated.
Images source: © GETTY | Anadolu Agency
ed. PRC

3:04 PM EST, November 12, 2023

The American newspaper "The Washington Post" suggests it holds specific evidence connecting the Ukrainian military and security service leadership to an act of sabotage. This claim is strongly denied by Ukraine, with accusations that this information is disinformation spread by the Kremlin.

The matter of damage to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is currently under investigation, with the circumstances being used as ammunition for the ongoing information war by all parties involved. Multiple interpretations and assessments of the events from September 2022 exist.

Citing sources familiar with the operation's planning, "The Washington Post" alleges that Colonel Roman Czerwinski from the Ukrainian special forces coordinated last year's Nord Stream attack.

The role of this officer appears to be the most direct evidence thus far linking the Ukrainian military and security service leadership to the highly controversial act of sabotage, leading to several criminal investigations. Officials from the USA and the West have labeled this an attack on Europe's energy infrastructure - we quote.

The 48-year-old Czerwinski, who is strongly associated with Ukrainian intelligence services, reportedly coordinated logistics and support for a group of six people. Under a false name, they rented a sailboat and installed an explosive charge on the gas pipeline on September 26, 2022, using diving equipment, says the "Washington Post". Three subsequent explosions resulted in a significant leak in threads 1 and 2, which run from Russia to Germany. After the attack, just one of the gas pipeline's four threads was functional as winter approached.

The report alleges that Czerwinski did not act or plan alone. Instead, he followed orders from senior Ukrainian officials who were accountable to the commander in chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, General Valeriy Zaluzhny - according to people familiar with the case.

Russian propaganda?

Through his lawyer, Czerwinski denies involvement in the sabotage operation. "Any speculation about my participation in the Nord Stream attack is being spread by Russian propaganda without any basis," he stated in a written release for the "Washington Post" and "Der Spiegel", who jointly investigated the case.

Since Russia launched its assault on Ukraine in February 2022, Czerwinski served in a special forces unit focused on resistance movements in Russian-occupied areas. He reported directly to General Viktor Hanushchak, who communicated with Zaluzhny.

Czerwinski also was part of other covert operations. In a written statement, he specified that he "planned and executed" operations intending to kill pro-Russian separatist leaders and "kidnap a witness" who could verify Russia's role in downing a Malaysian Airlines flight over Donbass in 2014. Last year, a court in the Netherlands convicted two Russians and a Ukrainian over the murder of 298 passengers and flight crew members, which was downed by a Russian Buk missile.

Since April of this year, Czerwinski has been in custody in Kyiv. He allegedly exceeded his authority in promoting a Russian pilot to defect to Ukraine in July of last year. According to authorities, he acted without permission, exposing the coordinates of a Ukrainian airport, leading to a Russian attack that resulted in the death of a soldier and 17 injuries.

Czerwinski insists he acted on orders, and his arrest is a political reaction to his criticisms of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He accused the presidential administration, among other things, of being unprepared for a Russian invasion.

Ukraine's denial

The alleged involvement of Czerwinski in the Nord Stream attack contradicts public assurances from Zelenskyy that his nation was not part of it. "Ukraine did nothing of the sort. I would never do anything like that," the president stated emphatically.

However, people familiar with the case claim that the operation was specifically planned without the president's knowledge. "Everyone involved in planning and executing directly reported to Zaluzhny, so Zelenskyy wouldn't know about it," states the "Washington Post", drawing on intelligence information provided by the CIA. Officials from various countries have privately stated their belief that Zelenskyy did not personally approve the Nord Stream attack.

Familiar sources also claim that other covert Ukrainian operations against Russian forces were planned without the president's knowledge.

The "Washington Post" writes that US officials occasionally express private criticism of Ukrainian intelligence and military leadership over attacks that might provoke Russia to escalate the conflict.

According to the newspaper, Dutch military intelligence in June 2022 obtained information that Ukraine might be preparing to attack Nord Stream. The CIA alerted Zaluzhny via an intermediary that the USA was opposed to such actions - these are claims by people familiar with the conversations.

Attack postponed

US authorities assumed the attack was cancelled, but it merely was reportedly delayed by three months.

In a June conversation with the Washington Post, Zaluzhny claimed the CIA never directly inquired about an attack on Nord Stream. Post-explosions, he received a call from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley. "He asked me: 'Are you involved in this?'. I responded: 'No. Many operations are planned, many operations are underway, but we have no involvement, absolutely none."

"I have devoted my entire life to defending Ukraine," wrote Czerwinski in a statement. In court, his supporters showed up wearing t-shirts adorned with his image and the message #FREECHERVINSKY. "For some, he represents the Ukrainian military's willingness to make tough decisions in the country's fight for survival," the "WP" writes.

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