A Ukrainian military officer allegedly led last year’s Baltic Sea underwater attack on the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline, according to The Washington Post, citing anonymous sources in Ukraine and Europe.
No one has taken responsibility for the September 2022 explosions, off the Danish island of Bornholm, that damaged three out of four offshore natural gas pipelines running under the Baltic Sea and delivering Russian gas to Europe.
The United States and NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, called it an act of sabotage, while Moscow said it was an act of international terrorism.
Germany, Denmark and Sweden have launched investigations into the Nord Stream explosions, which sent plumes of methane into the atmosphere in a leak that lasted several days.
Roman Chervinsky, a decorated 48-year-old colonel who served in Ukraine’s special operations forces, was the “coordinator” of the Nord Stream operation, according to people familiar with his role, The Washington Post reported Saturday.
Chervinsky, sources say, managed logistics and support for a six-person team that rented a sailboat under false identities and used deep-sea diving equipment to place explosive charges on the gas pipelines, The Washington Post reported.
On Sept. 26, 2022, three explosions caused massive leaks on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, The attack left only one of the four gas links in the network intact as winter approached.
A spokesperson for Ukraine’s military told the Reuters news agency he had “no information” about the claim. The Ukrainian foreign ministry and Kyiv’s domestic security service, the SBU, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The newspaper also reported that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has denied Kyiv’s role in the blasts, had been unaware of the operation. Zelenskyy last week replaced the head of Ukraine’s special operations forces.
Chervinsky denied any involvement in the pipeline explosions. An outspoken critic of Zelenskyy’s administration, he said the case against him is politically motivated.
“All speculations about my involvement in the attack on Nord Stream are being spread by Russian propaganda without any basis,” Chervinsky said in a written statement to The Washington Post and Germany’s Der Spiegel newspaper, which conducted a joint investigation of his role.
Chervinsky is currently under arrest for attempting to convince a Russian pilot in 2022 to defect to Ukraine, which investigators say led to a deadly Russian attack on a Ukrainian air base.
Although he is accused on acting alone in this, his commanding officer at the time, Maj. Gen. Viktor Hanushchak, told Ukrainian media earlier this year that senior military leadership had signed off on the plot to lure the Russian pilot.
The Post and Der Spiegel collaborated on reporting and wrote separate stories that they agreed to publish at the same time.
Source: VOA, using information from The Washington Post and Der Spiegel.