Nord Stream saga adds new twist in West's tussle with Russia
Gas leak at Nord Stream 2 as seen from a Danish F-16 interceptor in Bornholm, Denmark, September 27, 2022. /Reuters
Gas leak at Nord Stream 2 as seen from a Danish F-16 interceptor in Bornholm, Denmark, September 27, 2022. /Reuters

Gas leak at Nord Stream 2 as seen from a Danish F-16 interceptor in Bornholm, Denmark, September 27, 2022. /Reuters

When the Nord Stream pipelines that carried critical energy supplies from Russia to Europe mysteriously blew up last September, evidence quickly and clearly pointed to an act of sabotage, although the perpetrator remained unclear — until last week.

In a bombshell article, veteran American journalist Seymour Hersh described in detailed account how the U.S. government plotted the attack. More specifically, U.S. Navy divers under the direction of President Joe Biden secretly carried out the mission that critically damaged the multibillion-dollar infrastructure built by Russian energy giant Gazprom that connected Russia and Germany.

The Pulitzer-winning journalist noted that the decision to damage the pipelines occurred after more than nine months of behind-the-door debates inside Washington's intelligence community. Throughout most of this time, the question was not whether to carry out the operation but how to do so without giving away clues of U.S. involvement, according to the veteran journalist.   

U.S. National security council spokesperson Adrienne Watson described the report as "complete fiction," while a Central Intelligence Agency spokesperson called the report "completely and utterly false."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that U.S. officials have essentially acknowledged their role in the pipelines' explosion. According to Lavrov, the U.S. decided that Russia and Germany cooperated "too well" over the past decades while establishing a powerful alliance based on Russian resources and German technology.

"That began to threaten the monopoly position of many American corporations. Therefore, it was necessary to somehow ruin it, and do it literally," the minister said.

"There is an aspect here that's related to the fact that friendship between countries, national reconciliation between them, as it happened between Russians and Germans, has become an eye sore for those who don't want anyone to appear somewhere on this planet, who will compete with the main hegemon, which the U.S. has declared itself to be," Lavrov added.

According to Hersh, the U.S. Navy divers planted bombs in a covert operation under the pretext of a NATO exercise known as BALTOPS 22. Norway, where the U.S. has a submarine base, was the staging site, he wrote.

On September 26, 2022, a Norwegian Navy P8 surveillance plane made a seemingly routine flight and dropped a sonar buoy. A few hours later, high-powered C4 explosives which had been planted previously were triggered, and three of the four pipelines were put out of commission.

He pinned the motive behind the U.S.'s action as to choke off commercial gains of Russia amidst its war with Ukraine. The U.S. also believed pipelines gave Russia political leverage over Germany and Western Europe that could be used to weaken their commitment to Ukraine after the Russia-Ukraine conflict began, according to Hersh.

 "If this was true, it means that the American government has committed a terrorist act against vital German infrastructure, it's a scandal of the utmost seriousness," said Stephan Ossenkopp of the Schiller Institute, a German based political and economic think tank.

"It really commands the German government to stand up to the Americans and says 'you don't treat partners and allies like that.'"

Two of the pipelines, which were collectively known as Nord Stream 1, had been providing Germany and much of Western Europe with cheap Russian natural gas for more than a decade. Construction of Nord Stream 2 was designed to double the volume of gas that Russia could send to Germany under the Baltic Sea.

Although its construction had been completed in September 2021, the infrastructure never went into operation after Berlin halted the project shortly before the start of the Russian-Ukraine conflict.

Since the story was published on Substack last Wednesday, Hersh has been asked to comment about his source of the story who still remains anonymous.  He explained during an interview on the Radio War Nerd podcast that it was his job to protect his sources and take the heat when a story went live. But those within the media who criticize him for using anonymous sources should "understand the business a little better," the journalist suggested.

He also noted that major news outlets are failing to report a lot of things about the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev. "The war I know about is not the war you are reading about," Hersh observed.

"It is amazing to me how they fell in line, my colleagues," he added, lamenting that many outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and MSN have become a front for the White House and the Biden administration.

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