Senior Ukrainian officer coordinated Nord Stream attack: Washington Post

KYIV (Reuters) – A Ukrainian military officer coordinated last year’s attack on the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline, the Washington Post reported on Saturday, citing anonymous sources in Ukraine and Europe.

No one has taken responsibility for the September 2022 blasts, which occurred off the Danish island of Bornholm and ruptured three out of four lines of the system that delivers Russian gas to Europe.

Washington and NATO called it an act of sabotage, while Moscow said it was an act of international terrorism.

Roman Chervinsky, a former intelligence official who served in the Ukrainian military’s special forces, managed a six-person team but did not plan the attack, the Post reported. He denied involvement.

A spokesperson for Ukraine’s military told Reuters 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 President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who has denied Kyiv’s role in the blasts, had been unaware of the operation. Zelenskiy last week replaced the head of Ukraine’s special operations forces.

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.

Chervinsky is currently under arrest for exceeding authority after a 2022 attempt to convince a Russian pilot to defect to Ukraine, which investigators say led to a deadly Russian attack on a Ukrainian air base.

An outspoken critic of Zelenskiy’s administration, Chervinsky has said the case against him is politically motivated and that he was following orders in that operation.

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.

(Reporting by Dan Peleschuk and Tom Balmforth, Editing by William Maclean)