American investigative journalist and political writer Seymour Hersh claimed that the September 2022 bombing of the undersea Nord Stream gas pipelines was carried out by the US in a covert operation, according to the findings of his investigation published in Substack.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Hersh noted that the decision to damage the pipelines occurred after more than nine months of top-secret debates inside the Washington intelligence community.
Throughout most of this time, the question was not whether to carry out the operation but how to do so without tipping off the US government.
The White House’s primary objective was to prevent Moscow from considerably boosting its income while simultaneously reducing the dependence of Western Europe, particularly Germany, on inexpensive Russian gas, said Hersh.
“On September 26, 2022, a Norwegian Navy P8 surveillance plane made a seemingly routine flight and dropped a sonar buoy. The signal spread underwater, initially to Nord Stream 2 and then on to Nord Stream 1. A few hours later, the high-powered C4 explosives were triggered and three of the four pipelines were put out of commission. Within a few minutes, pools of methane gas that remained in the shuttered pipelines could be seen spreading on the water’s surface and the world learned that something irreversible had taken place,” said Hersh.
In the immediate aftermath of the pipeline bombing, the American media treated it like an unsolved mystery. Russia was repeatedly cited as a likely culprit, spurred on by calculated leaks from the White House–but without ever establishing a clear motive for such an act of self-sabotage, beyond simple retribution.
NATO and Washington viewed Nord Stream 1 as problematic enough, but the completion of Nord Stream 2 in September 2021 heightened American anxieties even further.
If approved by German regulatory authorities, it would double the flow of inexpensive gas to Germany and Western Europe, said Hersh.
Its capacity may accommodate more than fifty per cent of the nation’s annual usage. The US viewed Europe’s reliance on Russian gas as a risk to Ukraine’s backing, as countries like Germany could be unwilling to contribute the necessary funds and weaponry.
However, US President Joe Biden’s administration has denied the allegations and called the report “utterly false and complete fiction”.
Last September, a series of leaks were reported in the Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 pipelines, multi-billion dollar projects to carry natural gas from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea.
After an examination, both Sweden and Denmark, in whose jurisdiction the leaks happened, said the leaks took place because someone deliberately bombed the pipelines. However, they did not reveal who was responsible for the attack.
According to the report, which quotes an anonymous source who had “direct knowledge of the operational planning”, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine becoming imminent in December 2021, President Biden began holding meeting with a newly formed task force, which included the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CIA and the State and Treasury Departments.
Western media report the explosion as a mystery. It has frequently identified Russia as the likely perpetrator, a claim the White House has backed. Moscow, on the other hand, focused on assessing the expenses associated with pipeline restoration. After the Swedish State Security Service (Sakerhetspolisen) confirmed the sabotage in November, prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist reported the discovery of explosive remnants at the blast site. Since then, however, no additional information has been revealed.
Why Russia would want to damage its profitable gas pipelines was never apparent. Perhaps only retribution is offered for Western support of Ukraine, but by preventing the lucrative sale of gas through Nord Stream, Moscow would mostly punish itself, asked Hersh.
According to Hersh, a more compelling reason was supplied by the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken. At a press conference in September of last year, when Blinken was asked about the effects of the worsening energy crisis in Western Europe, he viewed this moment positively. He said it was a tremendous opportunity to eliminate Russian energy dependence once and for all, thereby removing Vladimir Putin’s ability to use energy as a tool to advance his imperial agenda.
The inquiry into the sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines has yet to be concluded, and no fresh information has been made public since the fall of last year.