July 13, 2024

U.S. Officials Say Nord Stream Pipelines Bombing and Assassination Attempt on Putin During Kremlin Drone Attack Carried Out By Ukraine

U.S. officials have concluded that an assassination attempt on President Vladimir Putin of Russia during a drone attack on the Kremlin earlier this month and a bombing targeting the Nord Stream pipelines were both carried out by Ukraine. However, there is uncertainty surrounding the specific units responsible for these incidents, and it remains unclear whether President Volodymyr Zelensky or other top officials were aware of these operations.

The New York Times reported on Wednesday that U.S. intelligence agencies have reached the preliminary assessment based on intercepted communications, where Russian officials blamed Ukraine for the attacks, while some Ukrainian officials hinted at their country’s involvement. Nonetheless, the lack of specific evidence identifying the individuals or units involved has resulted in low confidence in directly linking the Ukrainian government to these acts.

In addition to the Kremlin drone attack, U.S. officials assert that Ukrainians were behind a series of other incidents, including the assassination of a prominent Russian nationalist’s daughter, the killing of a pro-Russian blogger, and multiple attacks in Russian towns near the Ukraine border, with the most recent occurring on Monday, NYTimes said, adding that these incidents are part of a series of covert operations carried out by Ukrainian units, which have raised concerns within the Biden administration.

The worry is that Russia may hold the United States responsible and escalate the conflict beyond Ukraine’s borders. The U.S. government perceives these operations as potential distractions from the ongoing fight against Russian forces in southern and eastern Ukraine.

Determining responsibility for these attacks poses challenges for U.S. intelligence agencies due to the organization and coordination of Ukraine’s security services. With their secretive and overlapping responsibilities, including their own special forces units, these services operate with varying levels of professionalism, oversight, and coordination with each other.

While the drone attack on the Kremlin and the bombing of the Nord Stream pipeline caused minimal damage, they have dealt a blow to the perceived security and invincibility that the Kremlin seeks to project.

These covert operations conducted by Ukrainian units aim to penetrate deep into Russia, boost Ukrainian morale, and challenge President Vladimir Putin’s aura of invulnerability. The Ukrainian government sets broad parameters for these operations, leaving the decision-making on targets to the security services and operatives. However, the Biden administration has warned Ukraine against carrying out high-profile attacks inside Russia due to the risk of escalation and denies any involvement in enabling or encouraging cross-border attacks.

Takeaways:

  1. Ukrainian units are believed to be responsible for the drone attack on the Kremlin and the bombing of the Nord Stream pipeline, but the specific units involved are uncertain.
  2. Intercepted communications indicate Russian officials blaming Ukraine and some Ukrainian officials hinting at involvement, but there is low confidence in directly linking the Ukrainian government to these incidents.
  3. The Biden administration is concerned that these covert operations by Ukrainian units may lead to Russian escalation beyond Ukraine’s borders.
  4. The organization and coordination of Ukraine’s security services present challenges for U.S. intelligence in determining responsibility, as the units operate with varying levels of professionalism and coordination.
  5. The drone attack and pipeline bombing have undermined the Kremlin’s perception of security and aimed to challenge President Putin’s invulnerability. The Ukrainian government sets general parameters for these operations, while the security services and operatives make decisions on specific targets. The Biden administration warns against high-profile attacks inside Russia to avoid escalation and denies any involvement.
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