Last summer, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) informed Ukrainian officials that they had learned about a potential attack on the Nord Stream pipelines by Ukrainian forces. The CIA strongly objected to any such operation. In June 2022, Dutch intelligence officials shared information with the CIA that Ukraine was planning an attack on the pipelines using divers to blow them up. However, US officials later found out that the operation was not aborted but delayed with a different Ukraine-aligned group carrying out the attack. In September, explosions destroyed parts of the pipelines that carry natural gas from Russia to Europe, although the Ukrainian government denied responsibility for the attack.
German investigators later found out that a group of Ukrainians carried out the attack by renting a boat, loading it with explosives, and attacking the pipeline. US intelligence agencies now believe the operation was carried out with at least loose direction from the Ukrainian government, but they do not know exactly who planned the attack. Die Zeit and NOS reported the original information about the CIA’s warning to Ukraine and that Dutch intelligence officials provided the original intelligence.
It is unclear which US official delivered the message about the pipeline to Ukraine, and it was not delivered by senior-level officials because they believed Kyiv had reconsidered the wisdom of the attack. The original warning collected by Dutch intelligence included details similar to the final operation, but it also differed in some key respects. The original intelligence stated that Ukraine intended to attack Nord Stream 1, while the actual attack was against both the older pipelines and the just-completed set, known as Nord Stream 2.
The CIA was unable to verify the Dutch report, but they still warned the German government that the pipelines were at risk and discussed the matter with Ukrainian officials. The US government has declined to comment on the Nord Stream attack, and American officials have declined to comment on reports of Ukrainian involvement in the attacks, waiting for the results of the German investigation and other European inquiries.
Officials worry that Ukrainian involvement would weaken support for the war among Germans, who have faced high energy prices during the conflict. However, for now, Berlin has continued to increase military aid to Kiev and has provided many of the tanks being used in the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive.