Ukraine's attack on NordStream 2
This was reported by the Washington Post:
On June 6, the US daily Washington Post published a detailed report according to which the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was blown up by the military leadership in Ukraine.
The US was aware of detailed Ukrainian plans to attack the Nord Stream pipeline
The CIA learned last June through a European spy agency that a six-member team of Ukrainian special forces intended to sabotage the natural gas project between Russia and Germany.
by Shane Harris and Souad Mekhennet
Three months before saboteurs bombed the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline, the Biden administration learned from a close ally that the Ukrainian military had planned a covert attack on the undersea network using a small team of divers reporting directly to the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces.
Details of the plan, previously unreported, were gathered by a European intelligence agency and passed to the CIA in June 2022. They provide some of the most concrete evidence yet linking the Ukrainian government to the possible attack in the Baltic Sea, which U.S. and Western officials have called a brazen and dangerous act of sabotage against European energy infrastructure.
The European intelligence report was circulated via the chat platform Discord, allegedly by Jack Teixeira, a member of the Air National Guard. The Washington Post obtained a copy from one of Teixeira's online friends.
The intelligence report was based on information provided by a person in Ukraine. The source's information could not be immediately confirmed, but the CIA shared the report last June with Germany and other European countries, according to several officials familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence operations and diplomatic discussions.
The Discord leaks
Dozens of top-secret documents have surfaced on the Internet, revealing sensitive information intended for senior military and intelligence officials. In an exclusive investigation, The Post also examined numerous other secret documents, most of which have not yet been made public.
Who leaked the documents? Jack Teixeira, a junior member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, was charged as part of the investigation into the leaking of hundreds of pages of classified military information. The Post reports that the person who leaked the information shared the documents with a small circle of online friends on the chat platform Discord.
What do the leaked documents reveal about Ukraine? The documents reveal profound concerns about the course of the war and Kiev's ability to mount a successful offensive against Russian forces. According to a Defense Intelligence Agency assessment in the leaked documents, "negotiations to end the conflict in 2023 are unlikely."
What else do they show? The files contain human intelligence summaries of high-level conversations between world leaders, as well as information about advanced satellite technology the United States uses for espionage. They also contain information on allies and adversaries, including Iran and North Korea, as well as Britain, Canada, South Korea and Israel.
What happens now? The leak has far-reaching implications for the United States and its allies. In addition to the Justice Department's investigation, officials in several countries said they were assessing the damage caused by the leaks.
The highly specific details, which include the number of operatives and the methods of attack, show that Western allies have had a basis for suspecting Kiev's involvement in the acts of sabotage for nearly a year. That assessment has been reinforced in recent months as German law enforcement investigators found evidence of the bombing that bears striking similarities to what European services are accusing Ukraine of.
Officials in several countries confirmed that the summary of information posted on Discord accurately reflects what the European service told the CIA. The Post has agreed to withhold the name of the European country as well as some aspects of the alleged plan at the request of government officials, who said disclosing the information would jeopardize sources and operations.
Ukrainian officials, who have previously denied the country's involvement in the Nord Stream attack, did not respond to requests for comment.
The White House declined to comment on a detailed set of questions about the European report and the alleged Ukrainian military plot, including whether U.S. officials tried to prevent the mission.
The CIA also declined to comment.
On Sept. 26, three underwater explosions caused massive leaks in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, leaving only one of the network's four gas lines intact. Some Biden administration officials initially suspected that Russia was to blame for what President Biden called an "intentional act of sabotage" and pledged that the United States would work with its allies "to find out exactly what ... happened." With winter approaching, it appeared the Kremlin intended to cut off the flow of energy, an act of "blackmail," some leaders said, to intimidate European countries into withdrawing their financial and military support for Ukraine and refraining from further sanctions.
Zelensky privately urged bold attacks inside Russia, according to a leak.
Biden administration officials, meanwhile, privately concede that there is no evidence that clearly points to Moscow's involvement. In public, however, they dodged the question of who might be responsible. European officials in several countries have quietly suggested that Ukraine was behind the attack, but have been reluctant to say so publicly for fear that accusing Kiev could divide the alliance against Russia. At meetings of European and NATO decision-makers, officials have become accustomed to a rhythm; as one senior European diplomat recently said, "Don't talk about Nord Stream.
European intelligence made it clear that the potential attackers were not rogue agents. All those involved reported directly to General Valery Zaluzhny, the highest-ranking Ukrainian military officer, who was tasked with ensuring that the country's president, Volodymyr Zelensky, did not find out about the operation, the intelligence report said.
Keeping Zelensky out of the loop would have given the Ukrainian leader a plausible way to deny involvement in a daring attack on civilian infrastructure that could spark public outrage and jeopardize Western support for Ukraine - especially in Germany, which bought half its natural gas from Russia before the war and had long supported the Nord Stream project in the face of opposition from other European allies.
Although the Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom has a 51 percent stake in Nord Stream, Western energy companies, including those from Germany, France and the Netherlands, are partners and have invested billions in the pipelines. Ukraine had long complained that Nord Stream would allow Russia to bypass the Ukrainian pipelines, depriving Kiev of huge transit revenues.
The intelligence summary states that the Ukrainian military operation has been "put on hold" for reasons that are still unclear. The Ukrainians had planned to attack the pipeline following a major allied naval exercise (BALTOPS), which took place from June 5 to 17, 2022, the report says.
However, according to German law enforcement authorities investigating the September Nord Stream bombing, key details of that operation match the earlier attack.
For example, the Ukrainian person who briefed European intelligence in June said that six members of the Ukrainian special forces intended to rent a boat under false identities and dive to the bottom of the Baltic Sea in a submersible, then damage or destroy the pipeline and escape undetected. In addition to oxygen, the team also wanted to take helium with them, which is recommended for particularly deep dives.
German investigators now believe that six people with fake passports rented a sailing yacht in September, embarked from Germany and planted explosive devices that severed the pipelines, according to officials familiar with the investigation. They believe the perpetrators were experienced divers because the explosives were planted at a depth of about 240 feet, an area where experts say helium would be helpful to maintain concentration.
Investigators have compared the explosive residue found on the pipeline with traces found in the cabin of the yacht named Andromeda. And they have linked Ukrainian individuals to the rental of the boat through a front company in Poland. Investigators also suspect that at least one person serving in the Ukrainian military was involved in the sabotage operation.
Several German media outlets had previously reported on the suspected involvement of the Ukrainian military member.
The June plot differs in some respects from the September attack. The European intelligence report states that the Ukrainian agents were planning an attack on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, but does not mention Nord Stream 2, a newer pipeline. The intelligence report also states that the saboteurs would board from another location in Europe, not Warnemünde, a German port city on the Baltic Sea where the Andromeda was leased.
The CIA initially doubted the credibility of the information, in part because the source in Ukraine that provided the details had not yet provided reliable information, people familiar with the matter said. The European service, a trusted partner of the USA, considered the source to be reliable.
But despite any reservations the CIA may have had, the agency passed the June information to its counterparts in Germany and other European countries, the officials said. The European service also shared it with Germany, one person said. German intelligence officials briefed lawmakers in Berlin in late June before they went on summer recess, according to an official briefed on the behind-closed-doors presentation.
Officials familiar with the European report acknowledged that it is possible that the alleged Ukrainian plotters were aware that the information was shared with several countries and that they may have altered some elements of the plan.
However, the European intelligence report is not the only evidence pointing to Kiev's role in the pipeline bombing.
The Post had previously reported that the governments investigating the explosions uncovered conversations that showed pro-Ukrainian individuals or organizations discussing the possibility of attacking the Nord Stream pipelines. These conversations took place before the attack, but were only discovered after the attack when spy agencies scoured the data for possible clues, a senior Western security official said.
Despite the lifting of sanctions imposed by Trump on the natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany in an attempt to smooth the waters with Berlin, the Biden administration had long harbored concerns about Nord Stream and shed no tears over the end of the project in September.
After months of pressure from Washington, the German government halted final approval of Nord Stream 2 just days before Russian troops were due to invade Ukraine in February 2022, surprising many American and European officials who had feared that Berlin would consider Russia's energy source too important to break off relations. At the time of the attack, the pipeline was intact and was already being pumped full of 300 million cubic meters of natural gas to make it operational.
Almost a month before the rupture, Russian energy giant Gazprom halted flows from Nord Stream 1, hours after the Group of Seven industrialized nations announced an impending price cap on Russian oil - a move that was expected to put a dent in the Kremlin's coffers.
According to officials, the cost of repairing the pipelines would amount to hundreds of millions of dollars.
While U.S. intelligence agencies were initially skeptical of the European reports, they have long been concerned about aggressive operations by Ukraine that could escalate the war into a direct conflict between Russia and the United States and its NATO allies.
In February of this year, on the eve of the first anniversary of the war, Ukrainian military intelligence agreed "at Washington's request" to postpone planned attacks on Moscow, according to another intelligence document published on Discord. This incident illustrates a broader tension that has existed throughout the war: Ukraine is eager to take the fight to Russia's home turf, but is sometimes restrained by the United States.
Officials in Washington and Europe have admonished Ukraine for attacks outside its territory that they say went too far. After a car bomb killed Daria Dugina near Moscow in August, an attack apparently aimed at her father - a prominent Russian nationalist whose writings had helped shape the Kremlin's narrative about Ukraine - Western officials said they had made it clear to Zelensky that they blamed agents in his government for the attack. The attack was perceived as a provocation and carried the risk of a harsh Russian response, the officials said.
Ukraine has continued to carry out attacks in Russia, including drone strikes on an airfield and targets in Moscow that U.S. officials have linked to Kiev.
Samuel Oakford, Isabelle Khurshudyan, Michael Birnbaum and Greg Miller contributed to this report.
The Discord leaks
In exclusive interviews with a member of the Discord group, where U.S. intelligence documents were shared, The Washington Post learned details about the alleged informant "OG." The Post also obtained a series of previously undisclosed documents from a collection of images of classified files posted on a private server on the chat app Discord.
How the leak happened: The Washington Post reports that the person who leaked the information shared the documents with a small circle of online friends via the chat platform Discord. This is a timeline showing how the documents were leaked.
The alleged leaker of documents: Jack Teixeira, a junior member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, was charged as part of the investigation into the leaking of hundreds of pages of classified military information. Teixeira told members of the online group that he worked as a technical officer at a Cape Cod base, a member of the Discord server told The Post. Here's what we've learned about the alleged document leaker.
What we learned from the leaked documents: The massive document leak has exposed a number of U.S. government secrets, including spying on allies, the grim outlook for Ukraine's war with Russia and the insecurity of Taiwan's air defenses. The revelations have also sparked diplomatic fires in the White House.
Gerhard Schröder: USA prevented the end of the Ukraine war
by the editors of Infosperber.ch
After the war began, Schröder traveled to Moscow and wanted to mediate between Russia and Ukraine on his own authority. Now he's talking.
[This article posted on 10/25/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.infosperber.ch/politik/welt/gerhard-schroeder-usa-haben-ende-des-ukraine-kriegs-verhindert/.]
After the start of the war in 2022, Schröder was asked "from Ukraine" to mediate between Russia and Ukraine. On the one hand, he contacted President Putin, with whom he had a trusting relationship. On the other hand, the interlocutor was Rustem Umyerov, the current Minister of Defense of Ukraine. He had a good relationship with Selensky and is a member of the Crimean Tatar minority.
Schröder reported on the details of his efforts to mediate in March 2022 in an interview with the Berliner Zeitung on October 21.
Schröder said that he had held two talks with Umyerov on March 7 and 13, followed by a one-on-one meeting with Putin and then with Putin's envoy.
Umjerov had opened the talks with greetings from Selensky and had been prepared to make concessions in the course of the negotiations. Umyerov had explained "that Ukraine did not want NATO membership". And Ukraine wanted to reintroduce Russian in the Donbas.
Nevertheless, no agreement was reached. Schröder's "impression": "Nothing could happen, because everything else was decided in Washington. That was fatal." The Americans believed they could "keep the Russians down".
Schröder continued: "The only ones who could settle the war with Ukraine are the Americans. At the peace negotiations in Istanbul in March 2022 with the current Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umjerov, the Ukrainians did not agree peace because they were not allowed to. They had to ask the Americans first for everything they talked about."
In Schröder's opinion, the negotiations would have resulted in something like the following:
A renunciation of Ukraine's membership of Nato. Ukraine cannot fulfill the conditions anyway.
The problem of language. The Ukrainian parliament has abolished bilingualism. That must be changed.
The Donbas remains part of Ukraine. But the Donbas needs greater autonomy. A functioning model would be that of South Tyrol.
Ukraine needs security guarantees. The United Nations Security Council plus Germany should provide these guarantees.
Crimea. How long has Crimea been Russian? For Russia, Crimea is more than just a strip of land, it is part of its history. The war could be ended if geopolitical interests were not at play.
"The Europeans have failed"
The negotiations were not broken off because of the Butsha massacre, as has often been claimed. Because this massacre only became known later [on March 31].
The Europeans had failed. Because in March 2022, the Ukrainians were ready to talk about Crimea. Even the Bild newspaper confirmed this at the time. Under the title "Peace in sight at last", the Bild newspaper reported on March 14: "Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (44) himself had already hinted at concessions for negotiations: he no longer insisted on his country joining Nato, he told the US broadcaster ABC. He was also prepared to make a 'compromise' on Crimea and the breakaway provinces in Donbas. 'My goal in every negotiation is to end the war with Russia,' Selensky told BILD."
According to Schröder, France and Germany are the only countries that could initiate a peace plan today.
Remembering the victims and those suffering
A prolonged war that binds Russia closer to China is not in the interests of the West. Above all, however, we must remember the victims and sufferers of war: "The supply of weapons is not a solution for eternity. But nobody wants to talk about it. Everyone is sitting in trenches. How many more people have to die? It's a bit like the Middle East. Who are the victims on one side and on the other? Poor people who are losing their children."