A senior Ukrainian military official played a key role in the sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea last year, according to a joint investigation by The Washington Post and Der Spiegel published Saturday.
Roman Chervinsky, a colonel in Ukraine's Special Operations Forces, was the “coordinator” of the Nord Stream operation, people familiar with his role told the US and German newspapers.
They quoted officials in Ukraine and elsewhere in Europe, as well as others with knowledge of the operation, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Chervinsky oversaw the logistics and supervised a team of six people who rented a sailboat under false identities and used diving equipment to place explosive charges on the pipelines, the American newspaper detailed.
He neither planned the operation nor acted alone, taking his orders from Ukrainian officials, The Washington Post wrote.
Four large gas leaks were discovered on Nord Stream's two pipelines off the Danish island of Bornholm at the end of September 2022, with seismic institutes recording two underwater explosions just prior to that.
The pipelines had been at the center of geopolitical tensions as Russia cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected retaliation to Western sanctions over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
Depending on the source, responsibility for the explosions was attributed to Ukraine, Russia or the United States, but all have denied it.
Through his attorney, Chervinsky denied any role in the sabotage of the pipelines.
“All speculations about my involvement in the attack on Nord Stream are being spread by Russian propaganda without any basis,” Chervinsky said in a written statement to The Washington Post and Der Spiegel.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly denied that his country was involved in the pipeline explosions.
“I would never do that,” he told the German daily Bild last June, adding that he would “like to see proof.”
According to The Washington Post, the sabotage operation was conceived while keeping Zelensky in the dark.
The Washington Post and Der Spiegel said they had contacted the Ukrainian government for a reaction to their joint investigation, but had received no response.
Chervinsky is currently on trial in Kyiv, accused of abusing his power in an attempt to get a Russian pilot to defect.
He claims that the prosecution is political retaliation for his criticism of Zelensky, according to media reports.
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