Why do they want to hold Ukraine responsible for the blowing of Nord Stream pipelines?

The new “Ukrainian” version of the gas pipeline blowing is coordinated and becoming more detailed

Almost six months have passed since the sabotage that destroyed three of the four strings of the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines. The version that what happened to Nord Stream resulted from some natural causes fell within days under the onslaught of arguments and facts. And it is noteworthy that those arguments were put forward not only by the Russian side but also by the Europeans, who by that time had already been tightly drawn into a confrontation with Russia over the special military operation in Ukraine.

Nevertheless, the question of who had ordered the destruction of Russia’s gas supply to Europe, as well as the identity of the executors of this plan, remained to some extent open. Having been in this suspended state for the past few months, the topic has almost disappeared from public discussion.

It is quite possible that if it had never developed, it would have faded into history, becoming just another controversial case, just like the assassination of John F. Kennedy. But it didn’t happen: it was revived out of its half-dream by the famous and honored American journalist Seymour Hersh, who published an article with an unambiguous title: How America Took Out The Nord Stream Pipeline.

In this article, Rossa Primavera News Agency will discuss what Hersh said, how the USA, Europe and the world reacted to it, and most importantly, what options may emerge from this high-profile “disclosure” made directly from the “citadel of freedom and democracy.”

Hersh’s investigation

Exactly one month has passed since Hersch published his breaking article on his personal website on February 8.

Seymour Hersh (сс) Institute for Policy Studies
Seymour Hersh
(сс) Institute for Policy Studies

In it, the American investigative journalist and human rights activist, who began his rise to fame more than half a century ago by exposing the bloody deeds of the USA during the Vietnam War, described in great detail, with reference to “a source with direct knowledge of the operational planning,” the preparation and execution of the explosion at gas pipelines.

The New York Times called it a ‘mystery,’ but the United States executed a covert sea operation that was kept secret—until now”, the preamble to Hersh’s article reads.

In particular, he wrote that explosive devices with remote control and delayed activation were laid under cover of NATO exercise BALTOPS22 in the Baltic Sea, and their direct activation was carried out from Norway.

Hersh noted that the deployment was carried out by trainees of the military deep-sea school in Panama City, who are representatives of the Navy, but are not part of the US Special Forces – so their involvement is not formally required to report either to the Senate, Congress or the US government.

The journalist also mentioned that the planning of the covert operation was carried out by a specially formed working group of the CIA, State Department, Treasury and the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US army, which was headed by the US national security advisor Jake Sullivan.

The article says that since December 2021 a number of secret meetings were organized, during which the details of the sabotage plan were discussed. Representatives of the US Navy suggested using special submarines, and the Air Force suggested using bombs with remote-controlled detonators. Nevertheless, the key priority of the operation was absolute secrecy and the resulting need to completely cover up any trace of US involvement. If the information is uncovered, “It’s an act of war [against Russia],” the human rights activist quoted one of the meeting participants as saying.

Hersh also explained the motivation of the elite behind the organization of the blowing of Russian gas pipelines. He said that by the time US President Joe Biden along with then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the lifting of sanctions on Nord Stream 2, the controversy over the abrupt withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan had not yet cooled down. As a result, Biden was put in a disadvantageous light on two controversial decisions.

“Politico later depicted Biden’s turnabout on the second Russian pipeline as ‘the one decision, arguably more than the chaotic military withdrawal from Afghanistan, that has imperiled Biden’s agenda’,” Hersh wrote.

He added that the US president immediately received repercussions in the form of reactions from Republicans in Parliament, who blocked all of Biden’s foreign policy nominees and even delayed the annual defense budget for several months, until the fall of 2022.

Therefore, something had to be decided about the Nord Streams in any case, the journalist concluded.

Reaction in the world

It should be noted that even before the explosion of the “information bomb” prepared Hersh, the subject of “Nord streams” began to be smoothly warmed up in Germany and the USA. In particular,  Minister President  of Saxony (Germany) Michael Kretschmer on January 14 called to repair gas pipelines, and Victoria Nuland, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, said that she was pleased “to know that Nord Stream 2 is now, as you like to say, a hunk of metal at the bottom of the sea.”

It goes without saying that such a scandalous revelation from a major journalist could not but cause a strong reaction in the world. Statements, assessments, and interpretations flooded the information field.

Gas emissions near the Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 pipelines (cc) Swedish Coast Guard Press Service
Gas emissions near the Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 pipelines
(cc) Swedish Coast Guard Press Service

A week after the publication – by mid-February – China made a number of official statements . China had time to discuss the new information with the Russian side. Then China’s Foreign Ministry called for an objective investigation of the sabotage and punishment of those responsible, and also “expressed concern” about the US reaction to the scandalous revelation.

In Europe, predictably, opinions were divided. In particular, the European Commission called the data published by Hersh “a provocation,” while pro-Russian forces (sympathizers of Russia and, especially, of cheap gas) declared that the obedience of EU politicians to the will of the US made Europe “a laughingstock.”

Russia declared that it would push for a UN investigation, enjoying China’s support in the Security Council. As a result, by the end of February, the UN Security Council began formal proceedings on the case of blowing Nord Stream pipelines.

Shortly thereafter, Hersh himself said that the proceedings in the case could lead to a split in NATO and that there would be consequences for the United States following the case.

It was becoming clear that the USA could not simply ignore or limit itself to trivial denial of this information flow. It was necessary to appoint someone to blame, and this someone to be “blamed” was soon found.

Divers of Ukrainian steppes

On March 7, the US newspaper The New York Times, quoting an anonymous source in the presidential administration, wrote that “new intelligence reviewed by US officials” suggested that the explosion of the Nord Stream pipelines was organized by a mysterious “pro-Ukrainian group” which had planned and carried out the entire operation on its own initiative, without informing either Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky or the Ukrainian authorities.

On the same day, this version was already adopted by the German newspaper Die Zeit, which reported some details of the new US version. The article, quoting the data of the investigation, said that a group of six people: two divers and their assistants, the captain of the ship and a doctor arrived to the place of the sabotage on a yacht, rented from a Ukrainian firm, registered in Poland.

A certain soldier of the Ukrainian special forces was named as responsible for the planning and implementation of the operation. During the investigation, the article says, the yacht itself was found “with traces of explosives on board.” However, the nationality of those responsible for the attack could not be established, because they used professionally forged passports.

On March 8, the Washington Post also supported this version with its own article.

The UN said that they could not comment on the new US version of Ukraine’s involvement, and a representative of the US Department of State, as well as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, refused to comment on this information until the investigation was completed.

In Russia, Senator Grigory Karasin, head of the Council of the Federation’s International Committee, said that the gas pipelines could have been blown-up only with the participation of high-tech special services of NATO member-countries and that NATO was trying to use Ukraine as a cover.

Perhaps, the newly emerged version, given the appropriate efforts, may subsequently acquire the necessary facts and gain a minimum of coherence. However, at present, very few people are ready to take it seriously.

Divers (cc) Ben_Kerckx
(cc) Ben_Kerckx

It is quite clear that blowing up a complex engineering structure with good protection against damage, especially at a depth of nearly 100 meters underwater – the limit for work even in special diving equipment – requires the most serious preparation, planning and equipment. This is not to mention the highest qualification of the direct executors. That is why talks about “an initiative group of amateur divers” look extremely unconvincing.

A leak or a hoax?

In considering the possible versions of the reasons for the scandalous publication by Hersch, we should, first of all, pay attention to two circumstances.

First, there is the personality of the author himself: Seymour Hersh cannot be classified as a banal conspiracy theorist. He is a very well-known, honored and respectable American journalist, whose work has received international recognition, winner of many awards and prizes for his journalistic work around the world.

Secondly, it is the extremely restrained reaction to the published information on the part of US officials. That is, no explicit and obvious refutation of the “Hersh version” is provided.

Moreover, Hersh himself in his article refers to, say, not some classified documents that no one knows how he got his hands on, but directly to a source familiar with the planning of this – top secret, by the way – operation. That is he exposes a rather narrow circle of people to the readers. And with the covert operation, one does not expect many people to be involved. As they say, the one who is familiar with the situation will get the message.

It is highly unlikely that an experienced journalist would simply, out of the goodness of his heart, reveal his confidential sources, exposing them to quite real danger. This means that the information reported by Hersh is most likely not a simple provocative planting, but a well-calculated and coordinated leak.

Who benefits?

To try to answer this question, we should first listen to the opinion of the author himself about his publication. He says that the investigation of the US involvement could create a split in NATO, that is, it could push some European countries to leave NATO. This, in turn, could create the preconditions for a controlled expansion of the Ukrainian conflict without the direct involvement of NATO members, which undoubtedly benefits Russia’s enemies in the West.

At the same time, linking Ukraine to the situation with the Nord Stream may pursue several goals. On the one hand, Ukraine is a convenient candidate for the role of “the one to be blamed” because it is already involved in a military conflict with Russia (it will not get worse).

On the other hand, on March 7, there was information that Zelensky was sending signals to Biden about the difficult situation of the Ukrainian armed units near Artemovsk. That is, of course, it is not about a concern for the lives of the Ukrainian soldiers – Zelensky does not care about them – but about the higher prices for selling these lives to Western buyers.

In this connection, the “soft” information connection of Ukraine to the organization of the terrorist act on Northern streams can serve as a kind of a “pinch on the nose” for Zelensky to be more compliant and not to raise his voice about the Ukrainian losses. Like, let’s be quiet, otherwise, we will tell Europe about you and it … may cut the aid!

At the same time, the version voiced by several speakers in Russia that the West was simply going to get rid of Zelensky looks like wishful thinking. It is obvious that the new “Ukrainian” version of blowing gas pipelines is coordinated between the United States and Germany. This means that the situation in Europe remains under the full control of the Americans, who dragged the EU into the Ukrainian conflict.

Besides, one should not underestimate internal political games in the United States between Democrats and Republicans. Hersh’s information could well be called a blow to Biden and the Democrats in the run-up to the election, as the presidential election is due to be held there next year. The possibility of any Russian participation in this “game party” should not be ruled out.

Finally, we should admit that Hersh’s information requires some kind of intelligible reaction, and not just verbal, from our side. After all, a lack of response will lead to reputational costs in the international arena.

At the same time, any intelligible response to such a leak would inevitably lead to a narrowing of the room for our diplomatic maneuvering. This is not very convenient for Russia, which is reacting tactically. So the American journalist’s information move can in no way be explained by a paradoxical desire to “help Russia.”

Source: Rossa Primavera News Agency