The Central Intelligence Agency told Ukrainian officials last summer it had learned of what it thought was a failed plot by Ukrainians to attack the Nord Stream pipelines, and the agency reinforced its objection to any such operation. US officials said.
In June 2022, Dutch intelligence officials shared information with the CIA that they had learned the Ukrainian military was planning an operation using divers to blow up one of the pipelines, according to US and European officials. But the Dutch original suggestion, according to US officials, was that Ukraine had already reconsidered and canceled the operation.
In reality, American officials now believe, the operation was not halted but delayed, potentially with another Ukraine-aligned group carrying out the attack.
In September, explosions destroyed parts of pipelines carrying natural gas from Russia to Europe. The Ukrainian government has repeatedly denied responsibility for the attack.
But German investigators later learned that a group of Ukrainians had rented a boat, loaded it with explosives and attacked the pipeline. US intelligence agencies now believe that the operation was conducted at least with the free direction of the Ukrainian government, but they do not know who exactly planned the operation.
Information about the CIA’s warning to Ukraine and that it was Dutch intelligence officials who provided the original intelligence, has been previously reported from the German news The weather and NOS, the Dutch national broadcaster.
It is unclear which US official delivered the message about the pipeline attack on Ukraine. However, it was not spoken by high-level officials, because the United States already believed that Kiev had reconsidered the wisdom of the attack, according to American officials. Furthermore, it was not clear how the Ukrainians responded to the message from the Americans.
The original warning collected by Dutch intelligence included similar details of the final operation, but also differed in some key respects, according to the European official. Original intelligence said that Ukraine intended to attack Nord Stream 1, while the actual attack was against both the old pipelines and the newly completed set, known as Nord Stream 2.
Dutch intelligence also said the plan involves the use of fake Estonian passports, the European official said. At least some members of the group that European investigators say carried out the attack used fake Bulgarian passports.
The original plan was also to use Ukrainian special forces personnel to charter a submarine and boat to attack pipelines, near a spot popular with divers, the European official said.
The CIA was unable to confirm the information the Dutch gave them last summer, but warned the German government nonetheless that the pipelines could be attacked and then discussed the matter with Ukrainian officials.
The US government declined to comment on the Nord Stream attack, and US officials declined to comment on reports of Ukraine’s involvement in the attacks. They say they are waiting for the results of the German investigation and other European investigations.
Some officials fear that Ukrainian involvement could weaken support for the war among Germans, who have gobbled up high energy prices during the conflict. While it’s still possible that further revelations could shift public opinion in Germany, for now Berlin has continued to ramp up its military aid to Kiev and has supplied many of the tanks used in the ongoing Ukrainian counter-offensive.