June 13, 2023 –THE HAGUE – Dutch authorities learned of a Ukrainian plan to sabotage the Nord Stream gas pipeline three months before the pipeline was damaged in an apparent attack at the end of September 2022. The Dutch military intelligence agency, MIVD, warned the Central Intelligence Agency in the United States of the plans, and American officials then warned Ukraine not to strike the pipeline, anonymous sources told NOS and Nieuwsuur.
Even though Ukraine’s plan was scrapped, the pipeline was still targeted in an attack with a method similar to what the MIVD had suggested could happen. A week ago, the Washington Post reported that a European ally alerted the U.S. to Ukraine’s plans for sabotage. Prior to that, the New York Times reported that American officials suspected pro-Ukrainian groups of the September incident, and that those groups may have loose ties to the Ukrainian government. The MIVD discussed the plan with German authorities, NOS reported. The CIA also shared the information with Germany, according to the Washington Post.
A series of explosions damaged the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines on September 26, mostly in the evening. The underwater explosions took place in the Baltic Sea, breaching the pipelines used to transport gas from Russia to Germany close to Bornholm, Denmark, but also near the Swedish border. Investigators from those countries have thus far said the explosions were intentional.
Russia was largely blamed for the attack, but Russia always denied involvement, pointing the finger at Ukraine. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine’s president, has denied any responsibility.
At the time, the attack caused great turmoil all over the world, but even today, many questions remain unanswered. Initially, many countries pointed the finger at Russia. Meanwhile, more and more indications have come to light suggesting that Ukraine was involved in the action, which President Zelensky strongly denies.
It was not immediately clear how the MIVD gathered the intelligence about the plan to blow up the Nord Stream pipeline, said NOS, Nieuwsuur, and German media outlets Die Zeit and ARD. Their sources said they believe that Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren was informed, and that Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra and Prime Minister Mark Rutte may also have been briefed about it.
The plans obtained by the MIVD called for Ukrainian General Valery Zaluzhny to run the operation. It called on using a yacht to transport a dive team to the pipeline to produce the explosions. According to NOS, Zelenskyy was not involved in the planning. The MIVD also obtained information from a Ukrainian source after the explosions happened that suggested Ukrainian supporters were behind the act.
Intelligence officials are still uncertain if Ukraine, pro-Ukraine supporters, or another group was definitively behind the attack. It still remains under investigation, and Dutch Cabinet members have hesitated to blame anyone directly.