After issuing repeated denials of any responsibility for undersea explosions that tore through the Nord Stream pipeline used to transport Russian gas to Europe, ever-anonymous "U.S. officials" now say that new intelligence suggests blame for the sabotage lies with an independent "pro-Ukrainian group," according to a report in The New York Times on Tuesday.
The officials made it clear that "they had no evidence President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine or his top lieutenants were involved in the operation, or that the perpetrators were acting at the direction of any Ukrainian government officials," conveniently absolving Ukraine's government as the United States seeks to dispel reporting that claimed the Biden administration played a role in the operation attacking Nord Stream.
According to this new intelligence, the "explosives were most likely planted with the help of experienced divers who did not appear to be working for military or intelligence services," officials who reviewed the intel told the Times. "But it is possible that the perpetrators received specialized government training in the past."
So, according to this new intel as reported by the Times, a crew of highly trained individuals who support Ukraine were able to pull off a complex operation that successfully blew up Nord Stream — and they were able to do so without any assistance, information, support, or guidance from the American or Ukrainian governments.
The Times' report added that:
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.
It's not exactly a groundbreaking idea that a group of pro-Ukraine or anti-Russia operators would want to take out Nord Stream, but to do so without the awareness or help of the U.S. or Ukraine is notable. It's also notable that U.S. officials made it clear there's no evidence that Ukraine's government was behind the attack while admitting they don't know much about the perpetrators or their affiliations as they trotted out this new intelligence.
This latest update from U.S. officials is convenient because it further pushes attention toward some apparently independent group and away from the governments of the United States and Ukraine which, if they had been involved, would be a significant escalation by anti-Russian forces and their supporters (the United States).
As Townhall reported previously, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh published a bombshell report that claimed "Navy divers, operating under the cover of a widely publicized mid-summer NATO exercise known as BALTOPS 22, planted the remotely triggered explosives that, three months later, destroyed three of the four Nord Stream pipelines, according to a source with direct knowledge of the operational planning."
Both at the time Hersh's report was published and when asked by Fox News Sunday's Shannon Bream more recently, the White House's John Kirby denied that version of events. Kirby called Hersh's reporting "completely false" but wouldn't give a direct answer when Bream asked whether the Biden administration would have an obligation to notify Congress if such an operation were to be conducted.