The military intelligence service of the Netherlands (MIVD) allegedly warned its American counterparts in June last year of a plot to destroy the Nord Stream pipeline, Dutch national broadcaster NOS reported on Tuesday.
The MIVD reportedly warned the CIA three months before the sabotage that Ukraine had made imminent plans to destroy the pipeline. In September, the pipeline was destroyed, likely with the use of underwater explosives, in a similar scenario to what the MIVD had warned about.
Many Western nations have accused Russia of sabotaging its own energy infrastructure. Immediately following the attacks, US President Joe Biden pointed the finger squarely at Russia and invoked a “deliberate act of sabotage.” He promised that he would get to the bottom of who was behind the attack. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy flatly denied any Ukrainian involvement or knowledge of the attack.
EU officials have already distanced themselves from new reports accusing Ukraine of attacking European energy infrastructure. Russia has repeatedly demanded that the sabotage be investigated by an independent commission of the UN Security Council.
Last week, the Washington Post reported on a reported Ukrainian plan to destroy the Nord Stream pipelines, which it alleged that the US was fully aware of. The Dutch public broadcaster claims that the source of the Washington Post’s investigation was also from within the MIVD.
The investigation alleged that the plan was developed under the leadership of the head of Ukraine's armed forces, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi. The investigation says that the sabotage was conducted by a small team of trained divers.
The Dutch intelligence services, after catching wind of the plans, reportedly warned the US in mid-June. The Germans also later warned US authorities of the same plan. The original date of the attack, they alleged, was to coincide with the end of NATO exercises on 17 June.
After being tipped off by their European partners, the US reportedly contacted authorities in Kyiv. It is not entirely clear what happened from here. If the report is correct, and Ukraine did indeed carry out the sabotage, then two scenarios are possible.
Either the US told the Ukraine’s to put the planned attack on hold until September, or the Ukrainians ignored the US warnings and carried out the attack regardless. One source said that the CIA had ordered the attack to be put on hold, assuming no future attack would take place.
With the destruction of the pipeline on 26 September, European intelligence services were likely suspicious of Ukrainian involvement, NOS reports. As previously reported, shortly after the attack, Belgian newspaper De Tijd alleges that the CIA contacted Belgian military intelligence to warn of Ukraine’s potential involvement in sabotaging the Nord Stream pipelines.
At the same time “intelligence sources report that there is still no complete certainty and several options are taken into account.” The MIVD is still conducting an investigation into the explosion.
Until August 2022, one month before the attack, the Nord Stream 1 pipeline carried large volumes of gas to Europe, volumes which were exempt from EU sanctions. This gas should have provided vital supplies for Europe and income for Russia’s war machine.
After August, deliveries dropped to nearly zero as Russian claimed that technical issues were preventing it from sending greater volumes. This was likely part of a Russian plan to leverage energy against the West and to further drive up prices in Europe.
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The planned operation of a second pipeline, Nord Stream 2, made the pipeline project one of the biggest pieces of energy infrastructure in Europe. The $11 billion undersea gas pipeline connected Russia’s rich gas fields with the European energy market. Ukrainian authorities repeatedly called for the new pipeline not to be laid, but a German-US deal saw the project completed in July 2021.
The project had the capacity to transport an additional 55 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year, but was repeatedly frustrated by certification issues and concerns over Russia’s attempts to use energy to sideline Ukraine. The US and its allies saw the completed pipeline as a source of potential leverage over Ukraine.
At the time of the sabotage both pipelines were out of operation, but still filled with gas. Explosions occurred at important junctions in both of the important pipelines. Swedish investigators later concluded that the explosions were an act of “major sabotage.”