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NYT May Be Right About One Thing in Its Report on Nord Stream Sabotage

Swedish Coast Guard via AP

Last month, a bombshell report by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh alleged the United States was responsible for sabotaging the Nord Stream pipelines that supplied Russian gas to Europe. 

In painstaking detail, Hersh explained how Navy divers planted the explosive devices during a NATO exercise, which were then deployed three months later, taking out three out of the four pipelines. 

“Biden’s decision to sabotage the pipelines came after more than nine months of highly secret back and forth debate inside Washington’s national security community about how to best achieve that goal,” he wrote. “For much of that time, the issue was not whether to do the mission, but how to get it done with no overt clue as to who was responsible.” 

While U.S. officials, who initially blamed Russia, vehemently denied the report, it made Biden’s cryptic warning about Nord Stream make sense. 

“If Russia invades — that means tanks or troops crossing the border of Ukraine — then there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it,” the commander-in-chief said in February of 2022, weeks before the invasion. 

When a reporter asked how that would be possible, he replied, “I promise you, we’ll be able to do it.” 

Biden wasn’t alone, however. State Department official Victoria Nuland made a similar remark. 

Hersh's report was so detailed, even lawmakers were alarmed that they could not immediately rule it out. Fox News’s Tucker Carlson was even more certain about what the report alleged— "It is not possible that it's not true. It is true," he declared. 

Now, one month later, The New York Times has a scoop of its own about that sabotage, which is being met with ridicule. 

New intelligence reviewed by U.S. officials suggests that a pro-Ukrainian group carried out the attack on the Nord Stream pipelines last year, a step toward determining responsibility for an act of sabotage that has confounded investigators on both sides of the Atlantic for months. [...]

Ukraine and its allies have been seen by some officials as having the most logical potential motive to attack the pipelines. They have opposed the project for years, calling it a national security threat because it would allow Russia to sell gas more easily to Europe. Ukrainian government and military intelligence officials say they had no role in the attack and do not know who carried it out.

U.S. officials said there was much they did not know about the perpetrators and their affiliations. The review of newly collected intelligence suggests they were opponents of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, but does not specify the members of the group, or who directed or paid for the operation. U.S. officials declined to disclose the nature of the intelligence, how it was obtained or any details of the strength of the evidence it contains. They have said that there are no firm conclusions about it, leaving open the possibility that the operation might have been conducted off the books by a proxy force with connections to the Ukrainian government or its security services. [...]

Officials who have reviewed the intelligence said they believed the saboteurs were most likely Ukrainian or Russian nationals, or some combination of the two. U.S. officials said no American or British nationals were involved.

The pipelines were ripped apart by deep sea explosions in September, in what U.S. officials described at the time as an act of sabotage. European officials have publicly said they believe the operation that targeted Nord Stream was probably state sponsored, possibly because of the sophistication with which the perpetrators planted and detonated the explosives on the floor of the Baltic Sea without being detected. U.S. officials have not stated publicly that they believe the operation was sponsored by a state.

The explosives were most likely planted with the help of experienced divers who did not appear to be working for military or intelligence services, U.S. officials who have reviewed the new intelligence said. But it is possible that the perpetrators received specialized government training in the past. (NYT)

Depending on how one interprets "pro-Ukraine group," maybe The Times is on to something. 


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