Last September, underwater explosions destroyed the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, which was the main route for the supply of Russian natural gas to Germany and other countries, including the Czech Republic, until the supply interruption by Russia a month earlier. The explosions also damaged the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, but it was never put into operation. The pipelines have long been the target of criticism from the United States and some of its allies. They warned that the pipeline threatens Europe’s energy security due to increased dependence on Russian gas.
Ukraine has also long opposed the pipeline, complaining that Nord Stream would allow Russia to bypass its pipeline system. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi previously explicitly denied speculation that Kyiv was behind the damage to the submarine pipeline.
The investigation by the international team of journalists shows that the key coordinating role in the sabotage was played by officer Roman Chervinsky, who served in the Ukrainian special forces and participated in a number of other secret operations. According to sources familiar with the case, he led a six-member team that rented a boat and a sailboat and used diving equipment to place charges on the gas pipelines.
Chervinskyi allegedly did not act on his own, but on the orders of superior commanders, who ultimately answered to the Chief of the Ukrainian General Staff Valery Zaluzhny. According to WP, the sabotage operation was conceived in such a way that it would remain secret from Zelensky and his entourage.
Chervinskyi, who was arrested in April this year and accused of abuse of authority in one of the other covert operations of the Ukrainian special forces, denied any role in the gas pipeline case from custody in Kiev through his lawyer. He said his imprisonment was political payback for his criticism of President Zelenskyi and his administration – including chief of staff Andriy Jermak, whom he accuses of spying for Russia.
The American newspaper and Der Spiegel said they had asked the Ukrainian government for a response to their investigation but had not received a response.