Top US official hails Nord Stream 2 blast
US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland has expressed joy over the destruction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. She also argued that, even if the US had sanctioned the infrastructure weeks before the Ukraine conflict broke out, this would not have prevented hostilities.
During a Senate hearing on Thursday, Nuland was asked by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) whether his legislation aimed at sanctioning the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which was voted down in January 2022, could have stopped the conflict before it began.
“Like you, I am, and I think the administration is, very gratified to know that Nord Stream 2 is now, as you like to say, a hunk of metal at the bottom of the sea,” Nuland said. She noted that she had been involved in negotiations with Russia prior to the conflict in a bid to “prevent this war.”
The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines were heavily damaged by underwater explosions in September, in what were widely thought to be sabotage attacks. Moscow has consistently denied involvement and denounced the incident as a “terrorist attack.”
Nuland insisted that Russian President Vladimir Putin was “bound and determined to go into Ukraine” and that cutting Nord Stream 2 off in January would not have been “decisive” for him.
Nord Stream 2 was to be a route for the delivery of natural gas from Russia directly to Germany. Berlin suspended certification of the pipeline following Moscow’s recognition of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in February. While the conflict raged in Ukraine last March, Nuland claimed that the project was “dead” and unlikely to be revived.
Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev in turn claimed that Moscow had obtained “certain materials, which point to a Western trace in organizing and executing” the blasts that destroyed the pipelines.
While nobody has claimed responsibility for the Nord Stream explosions, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the incident as a “tremendous opportunity,” which would enable EU countries to become less dependent on Russian energy.
Moscow officials have repeatedly said the US was the primary beneficiary of the blasts, with Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov arguing last month that, by weaning itself off Russian energy, the EU would conveniently become “addicted” to American energy instead.