In June 2022, three months before the Nord Stream gas pipeline was sabotaged, the US Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, warned Ukraine not to blow up the pipeline.
The Americans did so after they had received an alarming report from the Dutch Military Intelligence and Security Service, MIVD. That agency had heard about Ukrainian plans for an upcoming attack from a source in Ukraine. This has become clear after investigation by NOS, Nieuwsuur and the German media Die Zeit and ARD.
The sabotage in June was cancelled, but in September the pipeline was still blown up. The scenario was nearly identical to that exposed by the MIVD three months earlier.
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.
What is striking is the role of the Dutch MIVD, which apparently had been able to gather detailed information about the intention to blow up the pipeline at an early stage. What exactly that role of the MIVD was remains unclear, because the agency declines to comment. According to insiders, the Dutch Minister Ollongren of Defence, and probably also Prime Minister Rutte and Minister Hoekstra of Foreign Affairs, must have been informed by the MIVD about the agency’s own findings and its briefing of the Americans.
So, a small circle among the top politicians in The Hague have known about the strong suspicions against Ukraine for a year now. The Cabinet refuses to answer any further questions about the matter.
In March, when the possible involvement of Ukraine was discussed, Minister Ollongren emphasized that the support that that country received from the Netherlands and Europa had nothing to do with the question as to whether Ukraine was involved in the bombing of the Nord Stream.
The plan, which was intercepted by the MIVD, put General Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s highest-ranking military officer, in charge of the operation. A small team of divers was said to plan to carry out the sabotage from a yacht. Zelensky was said not to have been in the loop.
Last week, The Washington Post reported about this plan based on leaked Pentagon documents, stating that the information had been shared by a European intelligence service. As it turns out, that was the MIVD.
As it was possible that the attack would be carried out soon, the military intelligence service urgently informed the Americans mid-June 2022, hoping that the action could still be foiled.
The attack was scheduled just after a NATO exercise in the Baltic Sea, which ended on 17 June. After that, the US contacted Ukraine. The MIVD later also informed German colleagues.
The CIA’s warning in the direction of Ukraine raises questions. For example, it is not clear whether the Americans told their Ukrainian colleagues that they knew about the plans before a possible attack or after. As a result, it is unclear whether the Ukrainians cancelled the original plan because of the American warning, or if there was another reason. Though a source says that, after June, the plan was put “on hold”, and the CIA did not assume that there would still be an attack.
On 26 September, three Nord Stream pipelines were still damaged beyond repair. Just after the attack, the MIVD contacted the CIA again (also according to a Ukrainian source) with intel on the attack that had taken place. This confirmed the suspicions of the services that Ukraine was behind the sabotage.
Sources of intelligence do, however, report that it is still not 100% certain, and that different options are being kept open. The MIVD is still investigating the events.
The reaction of the Dutch Cabinet to the sabotage action was cautious. When asked about a possible Russian involvement the day after the attack, Prime Minister Rutte said to NOS: “One can have all kinds of suspicions (…) but we are not going to comment on that at this point.” Two weeks later, he said to the House of Representatives: “We will see who was behind this. Hopefully, we will find out.”
Just as many of his European colleagues, Minister Hoekstra emphasized on behalf of the Cabinet that the sabotage should have consequences. “As soon as it is clear who is responsible, a very strong and united reaction should follow”, he wrote to the House in November.
An inconvenient truth
Not only the MIVD, but also Danish, Swedish and German intelligence services have been investigating the matter for months. A source of intelligence who knows about the American warning does not think that a final conclusion will be reached any time soon, let alone a united reaction by the European countries. “I suspect that the outcome of the investigation is an inconvenient truth.”
The CIA declines to comment. On Monday, the office of the Ukrainian President Zelensky was asked for a reaction. So far, they have not responded. “I believe that our army and our intelligence services knew nothing about it”, said Zelensky to the German newspaper Bild last week.