WaPo: US intel had advance warning of attack on Nord Stream -- by the Ukrainians

(106 miles)

At least this narrative makes sense from the cui bono perspective. But is it true?

It’s at least intriguing, in every aspect of the word. According to the Washington Post, US intel had a three-month warning that the Ukrainians would target the Nord Stream pipelines to punish Russia for its invasion and stop them from funding it from energy sales. The Biden administration learned of this through an intermediary European intel service, which the Post declines to name. The details have already been exposed in the Jack Teixeira leaks, however:


The European intelligence reporting was shared on the chat platform Discord, allegedly by Air National Guard member Jack Teixeira. The Washington Post obtained a copy from one of Teixeira’s online friends.

The intelligence report was based on information obtained from an individual in Ukraine. The source’s information could not immediately be corroborated, but the CIA shared the report with Germany and other European countries last June, according to multiple officials familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence operations and diplomatic discussions.

The highly specific details, which include numbers of operatives and methods of attack, show that for nearly a year Western allies had a basis to suspect Kyiv in the sabotage. That assessment has only strengthened in recent months as German law enforcement investigators uncovered evidence about the bombing that bears striking similarities to what the European service said Ukraine was planning.

Hmmm. It still comes down to a single source, albeit one that emerged prior to the attack on the Nord Stream pipelines. The source’s information couldn’t be corroborated either, which makes this sound more like rumor than actual fact. Still, the US passed the intel to the Germans in June 2022; the attack happened three months later. Presumably, the asset had enough credibility with the originating intel agency for the CIA to also take it seriously, or they would have kept it on the shelf.


Does that solve the whodunit? Well, maybe. The Ukrainians had the most to gain in attacking the Nord Stream pipelines, and not just in terms of war. Russia built them to bypass Ukraine (and Poland), which had stopped the flow of gas on the land-based pipeline before over passage fee disputes. The new pipelines effectively cut Ukraine (and Poland) out of the energy distribution business, thanks in large part to the Germans who partnered with Russia on the new pipelines.

Once the war started, the strategic value of the pipelines were obvious. Europe responded to the invasion by grudgingly refusing to allow Nord Stream 2 to go into operation and eventually boycotting Russian energy exports altogether. The Ukrainians would have had no way of knowing how long those sanctions would hold up. It makes perfect sense that the Ukrainians would want a permanent end to that distribution channel. It makes a lot more sense than competing theories about the Nord Stream attack — Russia cutting off its energy nose to spite its conquest face, for instance, or the US being involved at all.

This report has generated anger this morning over the lack of transparency from all of the governments involved. This, however, is silly. If the Ukrainians did blow up the pipeline, they don’t have any reason to disclose it, nor is anyone owed an explanation — except maybe Germany, and they owe everyone lots of explanations as to how they ended up in bed with the Russians in the first place. This isn’t an international trade dispute, after all; it’s war, and for Ukraine, an existential war in every sense possible. Anger from Americans over the targeting of the pipeline makes the least sense, since the pipeline didn’t serve our interests at all in the first place, as multiple administrations have made clear to Germany and the EU.


Frankly, the whodunit of the Nord Stream attack is only interesting to Americans to the extent we may or may not have been involved in it. This makes it look like we were bystanders, so our proper response should be to highlight this as a FAFO event all the way around.

That doesn’t mean that anyone’s proven that the Ukrainians blew up the pipeline. They still deny it, but then again, this is war — and it’s not a war of choice for Ukraine, but an existential war for their survival and independence. Vladimir Putin launched a total-war invasion with genocidal intent and execution, especially in the mass indiscriminate bombing of civilian population centers. That makes Russian economic assets fair targets, especially those that directly contribute to its war machine.

And it has made a difference, or at least it would have, if Europe had been inclined to backslide on Russian energy transfers through NordStream. Russia disclosed today that its oil sales are cratering this month by almost half a billion dollars, losses that accelerated from the previous month:

Russia’s federal budget may fall short of oil and gas revenues by 44 bln rubles ($542 mln) in June, according to a statement on the Finance Ministry’s Telegram channel.

“The volume of additional oil and gas revenues going to the federal budget in June 2023 is expected to be in the amount of (minus) 44.0 bln rubles,” the statement says.

In May, the shortfall in budget revenues from oil and gas sales amounted to 30.6 bln rubles ($377 mln).


The Saudis’ decision to cut oil production to keep the price of oil from declining will help Putin, but not significantly enough to reverse his fortunes.

At any rate, the tide of war may be turning, thanks in part to Russia’s financial and political breakdown. Ukraine has arguably launched its long-awaited counteroffensive, or may be just conducting what John called a reconnaissance in force at the moment. ISW isn’t sure either, but part of the calculation is how Ukraine appears to be extending the war back into Russia, and what that might force Russia to do before the real counteroffensive begins:

The pro-Ukrainian all-Russian Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK) claimed that it continues to operate in a Russian border settlement in Belgorod Oblast as of June 5. Geolocated footage published on June 5 shows the RDK personnel operating in Novaya Tavolzhanka (a small settlement about 3km from the Kharkiv-Belgorod Oblast border).[13] The Freedom of Russia Legion (LSR), which conducted a raid into Belgorod Oblast with the RDK, published footage purportedly showing LSR forces striking Russian tanks and armored vehicles near the Shebekino checkpoint, about 7km northeast of Novaya Tavolzhanka.[14] The Russian MoD claimed on June 5 that Russian forces and the Russian Border Guard Service repelled two attacks near Novaya Tavolzhanka on June 4, but did not respond to the RDK’s claim that RDK personnel still operate in the settlement.[15]

Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov claimed that Chechen forces are ready to defend against raids in Belgorod Oblast, likely in part to keep his forces out of combat in Ukraine. Kadyrov claimed on June 5 that he has 70,000 Chechen servicemen serving in unspecified formations in the Russian military who could defend against the raids into Belgorod Oblast due to their extensive anti-terrorism training.[16] Kadyrov notably stated that the Russian “Commander-in-Chief” – implying Russian President Vladimir Putin – “knows better,” but that Kadyrov wanted to “remind” everyone that Chechen units could have dealt with ”terrorists who invaded Belgorod Oblast.” Kadyrov’s suggestion for Chechen forces to operate in Belgorod Oblast follows Putin‘s order deploying Chechen units to areas along the Donetsk frontline on May 31.[17] Kadyrov’s rhetorical shift towards suggesting that Chechen forces get involved in Belgorod Oblast may suggest a desire to preserve his forces from engaging in combat in more challenging sectors of the front.


That would have the effect of softening Russian defenses in Donetsk as they split forces to contend with attacks on their rear. That is also a natural consequence of an attempted conquest with incompetent leadership, vastly overrated forces, and antiquated hardware and tactics.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on HotAir Videos