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Ukrainian Military Officer Accused of Attack on Nord Stream Gas Pipeline

Written by on November 13, 2023

A Ukrainian military officer allegedly coordinated last year’s 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 Der Spiegel, 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 Germany’s Der Spiegel newspaper collaborated on reporting and wrote separate stories that they agreed to publish at the same time.

During his nightly video address Sunday, President Zelenskyy warned Ukrainians to brace for new waves of Russian attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure as winter approaches.

“We are almost halfway through November and must be prepared for the fact that the enemy may increase the number of drone or missile strikes on our infrastructure,” Zelenskyy said, adding that troops were anticipating an onslaught in the eastern war front.

His warning comes a day after Russia renewed its missile attacks against Kyiv.
Ukraine’s energy minister, German Galushchenko, said late Saturday that the country has enough energy resources to get through the coming winter, but an expected surge in Russian attacks could disrupt the supply networks.

A military spokesperson said Russian attacks on the shattered eastern town of Avdiivka had eased in the past day but were likely to intensify soon.

Ukrainian military intelligence said an explosion killed at least three Russian servicemen in the Russian-occupied southern town of Melitopol, which it described as an “act of revenge” by resistance groups.

Large elements of the mercenary Wagner Group have “likely” been absorbed into the command structure of Russia’s National Guard (Rosgvardiya), the British defense ministry said Sunday in its daily intelligence report on Ukraine.

This new faction is “likely” being led by Pavel Prigozhin, the son of the late Yevgeny Prigozhin, who headed the group before his death in an airplane crash, weeks after staging a mutiny targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In addition, the report says Wagner fighters and medical personnel have also joined Chechen special forces.

Russia is now “exercising more direct control” over Wagner Group activities, the British defense ministry said.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s governing coalition has agreed in principle to double the country’s military aid for Ukraine next year to 8 billion euros (about $8.5 billion), a political source in Berlin said Sunday.

If approved by parliament, where Scholz’s parties hold a majority, the boost would lift Germany’s defense spending to 2.1% of its gross domestic product target, beyond the 2% pledged by all NATO members, the source added.
Germany’s proposal comes amid reservations by multiple European Union countries, including Germany, about committing long-term military aid of up to $5 billion annually over four years as part of broader Western security commitments to bolster Ukraine’s defenses.

Additionally, the EU is facing challenges meeting a target of supplying Kyiv with 1 million artillery shells and missiles by next March.

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, Reuters, The Washington Post, and Agence France-Presse.

 

FILE – Gas bubbles from the Nord Stream 2 leak reaching surface of the Baltic Sea in the area shows disturbance of well over one kilometre diameter near Bornholm, Denmark, Sept. 27, 2022. Danish Defence Command/Handout via REUTERS


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