I didn’t order Nord Stream sabotage – Zelensky
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has claimed he had no knowledge of an alleged plot by his government to blow up the Nord Stream gas pipelines. The plan was reportedly uncovered by a European nation, which subsequently informed Washington.
“I am president and I give orders accordingly,” Zelensky said, as cited by Politico on Thursday. “Nothing of the sort has been done by Ukraine. I would never act that way.”
The alleged intelligence tip was reported by the Washington Post on Tuesday, based on leaked classified Pentagon materials. The pipelines, which were built to carry gas from Russia to Germany, were ruptured by powerful explosions last September, and the newspaper claimed that the US had learned of Ukrainian preparations for a sabotage operation three months prior from an unidentified ally.
The alleged mission was run by Valery Zaluzhny, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, rather than rogue agents, the Post claimed. Zaluzhny was placed in charge so that Zelensky “wouldn’t know about the operation” and could maintain plausible deniability, it was reported.
“I didn’t know anything, 100%,” the president said in the interview. “I said, ‘Show us proof. If our military is supposed to have done this, show us proof.’”
According to the Post, Ukraine wanted to blow up the pipelines following NATO’s BALTOPS naval exercise in June 2022. Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh previously claimed that the drills were used as cover to plant remotely triggered explosives, but stated that it was US and Norwegian divers who had done so, acting on orders from US President Joe Biden. Washington and Oslo have denied Hersh’s allegations.
Zelensky’s ability to control his own secret services was previously placed in question by other materials in the trove of leaked Pentagon documents, which were allegedly shared by US Air National Guard member Jack Teixeira. One of the documents stated that the US believed that the Ukrainian agents behind an attack in March on a Russian airborne radar stationed in Belarus had not informed the president about their plans.