Armed Conflict

The Lawfare Podcast: Dam Breaks and Pipeline Bombings

Jen Patja, Benjamin Wittes, Eric Ciaramella, Dmitri Alperovitch, Shane Harris
Thursday, June 8, 2023, 12:00 PM
What does the destruction of a dam on the Dnipro River and the Nord Stream pipeline all mean for the future of the Ukraine war?

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A large dam on the Dnipro River has been destroyed, causing massive flooding and a dangerous environmental catastrophe in southern Ukraine. The Ukrainians are blaming the Russians; the Russians are blaming the Ukrainians. Meanwhile, the Washington Post is reporting that the CIA was actually tipped off about the coming destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines last year—and that it was tipped off that a Ukrainian military team was planning to do it. The blockbuster story is the latest bit of evidence that the Nord Stream operation was, after all, not the Russians, but the Ukrainians. 

Lawfare Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Wittes sat down in three conversations to discuss the goings on. First, he spoke with Eric Ciaramella, Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and a former CIA analyst and NSC official on Russia and Ukraine, about the scope and scale of the damage the dam break has done. Then Ben spoke with Dmitri Alperovitch, Chairman of the Silverado Policy Accelerator, about the military implications of the dam break. And he spoke with Shane Harris, one of the reporters whose name is on that Washington Post story byline, about his story and what it all means for the future of the Ukraine war. 


Jen Patja is the editor and producer of The Lawfare Podcast and Rational Security. She currently serves as the Co-Executive Director of Virginia Civics, a nonprofit organization that empowers the next generation of leaders in Virginia by promoting constitutional literacy, critical thinking, and civic engagement. She is the former Deputy Director of the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier and has been a freelance editor for over 20 years.
Benjamin Wittes is editor in chief of Lawfare and a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of several books.
Eric Ciaramella, a Lawfare contributing editor, is also a senior fellow in the Russia and Eurasia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he specializes in Ukraine and post-Soviet affairs. He previously served in the U.S. government as an intelligence analyst and policy official, including at the CIA, National Intelligence Council, and National Security Council.
Dmitri Alperovitch is the Co-Founder and Chairman of Silverado Policy Accelerator, a non-profit focused on advancing American prosperity and global leadership in the 21st century and beyond. He is a Co-Founder and former CTO of CrowdStrike Inc., a leading cybersecurity company, and has served as a special advisor on cybersecurity strategy to the Department of Defense.
Shane Harris has written about intelligence, security and foreign policy for more than two decades. He is a staff writer with The Washington Post, covering U.S. intelligence agencies and national security. He was part of the team that won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, for stories about the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and efforts to overturn the presidential election. In 2019, he was part of the team that was a finalist for the Public Service award for coverage of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Shane has previously been a staff writer for the Wall Street Journal, the Daily Beast, and National Journal. He is the author of two books, "The Watchers: The Rise of America's Surveillance State" (Penguin Press, 2010) and "@War: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex" (Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014). He frequently appears on national and international television and radio. He is also a co-host of the weekly podcast "Chatter." Shane graduated from Wake Forest University in 1998. He lives in Washington.

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