What’s Wrong with Accusations Against Ukraine on the Nord Stream Sabotage? (Part 1)

November 26, 2023
Ukraine's alleged involvement in the Nord Stream sabotage has been widely publicized in international media, prompting criticism among Ukrainians. But why?

The Washington Post recently released an article examining what they claim is Ukraine’s involvement in sabotaging the Nord Stream pipeline, yet seems to have overlooked all available facts.

It's not the sole publication, however, that has set out to link Ukraine to the incident. These accusations have sparked frustration in Ukraine because the publications lack substantial evidence supporting their claims.

Mykhailo Gonchar, the President of the Centre for Global Studies "Strategy XXI", unpacked the baselessness of these claims with UkraineWorld.

The recent Washington Post article on the alleged Ukrainian coordinator of the Nord Stream sabotage operation is one in a series of similar publications that should be scrutinized together.

Since the spring of 2023, when the version about the yacht "Andromeda" with the Ukrainian team on board blowing up the Nord Stream pipeline on September 26, 2019, was invented, articles of this type have appeared regularly in various international media.

So, what are the flaws of the Ukrainian trace version?

First, the military specialization of those considered complicit.

In previous reports, a former Ukrainian soldier named Valery Kolesnyk had been identified as a direct participant in the sabotage. However, he had served in the land forces and had no experience with maritime operations, making this assumption untenable.

Colonel Roman Chervinsky's name appeared in a recent publication. The article suggests that he was the coordinator of the operation. However, there is no mention of a maritime component in his professional biography.

Whatever Chervinsky may be, a person without relevant experience cannot organize and carry out an operation of unprecedented complexity, such as the Nord Stream pipeline sabotage.

Second, the statement about using the "Andromeda" yacht contains numerous inaccuracies. Despite this, The Washington Post publication does not even attempt to question this assumption, taking it as objective reality based on the results of previous journalist investigations.

In fact, those investigations prove nothing except that a group of people could rent a yacht and travel anywhere in the Baltic Sea. No computer modeling took into account all of the operation's variables.

Official data from actual investigations is also unavailable, and anonymous sources can't have any credibility in case of such accusations.

Moreover, a group of journalists would have no idea how such an operation is carried out. Thus, the journalist's experiments and investigations are invalid.

From this flows the third point. An operation of this level of complexity requires seamless execution of technical details.

A reliable, well-equipped vessel was vital in carrying out the sabotage. It should have been a vessel capable of bearing the necessary equipment and a sufficient amount of explosives.

A military ship would have been the best option for this end, but it would have drawn attention. Then, a vessel of a fishing trawler type would have been an optimal option, but not an old yacht.

Another important detail is that Ukraine doesn't have access to the Baltic Sea, which makes the Ukrainian military unfamiliar with its peculiarities.

Specific knowledge about the hydrology of the sea, specifics of its seabed, natural currents in the area of the operation, and technical specifics of the high-pressure undersea pipelines are essential to carry out the sabotage. Ukraine doesn't have this expertise.

A number of other questions arise in this context. What kind of explosive was used? How was it designed? How much did it cost? How was it put to use? What exactly were the detonators? They are critical in determining who is truly responsible for the incident.

And none of those publications provide answers. It's unsurprising. This information is not available to the general public. Given that the official investigations are ongoing and being conducted independently by three countries – Germany, Sweden, and Denmark – all of the critical details are classified.

Thus, the journalists used second-hand information, the origin of which is questionable. References to anonymous sources do not add credibility.

The lack of basic official information makes the results of experiments and journalists' investigations untrustworthy. That is why the version about the "Andromeda" yacht is untenable, irrespective of the names of the 'coordinators' or 'organizers' mentioned.

Anastasiia Herasymchuk, Deputy Editor-in-Chief at UkraineWorld
Mykhailo Gonchar, the President of the Centre for Global Studies "Strategy XXI"