Ukrainian military officer coordinated Nord Stream pipeline attack
Roman Chervinsky, a decorated 48-year-old colonel who served in #Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces, was the “coordinator” of the #Nord_Stream operation, people familiar with his role said, managing logistics and support for a six-person team that rented a sailboat under false identities and used deep-sea diving equipment to place explosive charges on the gas pipelines. On Sept. 26, 2022, three explosions caused massive leaks on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which run from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea. The attack left only one of the four gas links in the network intact as winter approached.
Chervinsky did not act alone and he did not plan the operation, according to the people familiar with his role, which has not been previously reported. The officer took orders from more senior Ukrainian officials, who ultimately reported to Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s highest-ranking military officer, said people familiar with how the operation was carried out. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive details about the bombing, which has strained diplomatic relations with Ukraine and drawn objections from U.S. officials.
Chervinsky is being held in a Kyiv jail on charges that he abused his power stemming from a plot to lure a Russian pilot to defect to Ukraine in July 2022. Authorities allege that Chervinsky, who was arrested in April, acted without permission and that the operation gave away the coordinates of a Ukrainian airfield, prompting a Russian rocket attack that killed a soldier and injured 17 others.
Hanushchak, who is no longer serving in the Special Operations Forces, has said publicly that the operation was approved by the Armed Forces, and declined to comment for this article.
Chervinsky has said he was not responsible for the Russian attack and that in trying to persuade the pilot to fly to Ukraine and hand over his aircraft, he was acting on orders. He calls his arrest and prosecution political retribution for his criticism of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his administration. Chervinsky has said publicly that he suspects Andriy Yermak, one of Zelensky’s closest advisers, of spying for Russia. He has also accused the Zelensky administration of failing to sufficiently prepare the country for Russia’s invasion.
Chervinsky’s participation in the Nord Stream bombing contradicts Zelensky’s public denials that his country was involved. “I am president and I give orders accordingly,” Zelensky said in press interview in June, responding to a report by The Post that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency had learned of Ukraine’s plans before the attack.
“Nothing of the sort has been done by Ukraine. I would never act that way,” Zelensky said.
But the Nord Stream operation was designed to keep Zelensky out of the loop, people familiar with the operation said.
“All of those involved in planning and execution reported directly to [chief of defense] Zaluzhnyy, so Zelensky wouldn’t have known about it,” according to intelligence reporting obtained by the CIA that was allegedly shared by Jack Teixeira, a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, on the Discord chat platform. Officials in multiple countries have said privately they were confident that Zelensky didn’t personally approve the Nord Stream attack.