A joint investigation by the Washington Post and Der Spiegel suggests that Roman Tchervinskyi, a colonel in Ukraine’s special forces, was the one who coordinated the attacks on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines.
Tchervinskyi is said to have received his orders from “higher Ukrainian officials”, who in turn reported to Ukraine’s supreme military command.
According to the Washington Post and Der Spiegel, Tchervinskyi also has “deep ties to the intelligence services” and was reportedly responsible for the logistics of the group of six specialists who rented a sailboat under false identities and used deep-sea diving equipment to plant explosives on the two gas pipelines.
The investigation suggests that the attack was not Tchervinskyi’s own idea and that he was not the one who planned the operation – instead, it was done by “higher Ukrainian officials” with the approval of Ukraine’s commander-in-chief, Valery Zaluzhny.
– All speculations about my involvement in the attack on Nord Stream are spread by Russian propaganda without any basis, Tchervinskyi himself says.
The colonel is currently imprisoned in Kyiv for attempting, on his own initiative and without permission, to persuade a Russian pilot to defect to the Ukrainian side.
Difficult to claim self-defense
Ilmari Käihkö, a researcher at the Swedish Defence University, calls the information that Ukraine was behind the attack “politically sensitive”.
– The sources speaking are anonymous. We don’t know who they are, and I wonder why they want to leak information to the media, he tells the tabloid Aftonbladet.
– There are major political interests. As soon as Ukraine starts operating beyond its own borders, it will raise questions. Then the war becomes internationalized, and it also becomes harder for them to say that they are only acting in self-defense, he adds.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has consistently denied any Ukrainian involvement in the attacks, claiming instead that Russia was behind the bombings. Prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist, who is leading Sweden’s investigation into the bombings, declined to comment on the new information.