Last September, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany was blown up, followed by its older-sibling line, Nord Stream 1. This was an attack on European infrastructure, on its energy security, and on the environment, too, as large amounts of natural gas leaked into the Baltic Sea.
The immediate argument from the Western political-media class was that Moscow had likely attacked its own pipelines despite Nord Stream being an important source of revenue and influence. Instead of presenting evidence or any coherent motivation, they claimed it was part of the mythical “Russian playbook.”
Across the West it was deemed to be conspiracy-theory peddling, and Russian propaganda, to even suggest the US would benefit from the situation. In an ultimate display of bloc discipline, or of Stockholm syndrome, the Americans were able to celebrate the destruction of the pipeline while the Western Europeans fervently denounced any allegation against their ally as disinformation. The incident has seemingly gone down the memory hole as the political-media class have no interest in an open investigation and public awareness has been diluted.
Seymour Hersh, the investigative journalist who exposed the 1968 US My Lai massacre coverup in Vietnam and the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq circa 2004, has now released a report blaming the US for the attack on the Nord Stream pipelines. Will the report result in according the attack the serious debate and investigation it deserves, or will they attempt to move along by denouncing Hersh as an old, senile “Putinist?”
US interest in destroying Nord Stream 2
America’s historical fears about economic integration between Germany and Russia were realized with the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines, which sent energy directly between the two European giants. The US was remarkably open about its desire and intention to disrupt the German-Russian pipeline project. Washington resisted the construction of Nord Stream 2 for years, condemned Germany for its participation, and even sanctioned European companies which participated in the project.
The RAND Corporation published a report in 2019, ordered by the US Army, on how to extend and weaken Russia. Energy cooperation between Berlin and Moscow was identified as a key source of Russian economic revenue and influence in Europe, and the report advocated that “A first step would involve stopping Nord Stream 2.” In July 2020, then-US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned:
We will do everything we can to make sure that that pipeline doesn’t threaten Europe.”
The Nord Stream pipeline was frequently threatened as the conflict in Ukraine intensified. US Senator Tom Cotton stated in May 2021 that “there is still time to stop it… Kill Nord Stream 2 now, and let it rust beneath the waves of the Baltic”. On 14 January 2022, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan asserted: “We have made clear to the Russians that pipeline is at risk if they move further into Ukraine.” On 3 February, Senator Ted Cruz called for the end of Nord Stream: “This pipeline must be stopped and the only way to prevent its completion is to use all the tools available to do that.”
On 7 February 2022, President Biden stood next to German Chancellor Scholz as he warned that if Russia invades Ukraine then “there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.” Asked by a journalist how he would destroy something under German control, Biden responded: “I promise you, we will be able to do that”. Undersecretary of State for Policy, Victoria Nuland, also repeated the threat: “I want to be very clear: if Russia invades Ukraine one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward.”
On 26 September 2022 the threat seemingly materialized as the German-Russian Nord Stream pipelines were destroyed in an underwater explosion. The next day, on 27 September 2022, leaders from Poland, Norway, and Denmark attended a ceremony in Poland to mark the opening of the new Norway-Poland Baltic Pipe that would replace the dependence on Nord Stream.
After the Nord Stream attack, former Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski tweeted “Thank you, USA,” accompanied by a picture of the destroyed pipeline. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken then, in no uncertain terms, argued that the destruction of Nord Stream presents “a tremendous opportunity. It’s a tremendous opportunity to once and for all remove the dependence on Russian energy.” Blinken also offered to assist Western Europe by replacing Russian gas with much more expensive American fuel. Recently, Nuland also weighed in as she argued “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.”
Investigating the attack
The US has rejected any involvement in the destruction of Nord Stream, and instead pointed the finger toward Moscow as the likely culprit. Russia has not received access to the Swedish investigation, and then there is the strange incident of Stockholm refusing even to share its findings with Germany and Denmark as the results are “too sensitive.”
The media has also been very diligent in defending Washington’s narrative. Case in point, when professor Jeffrey Sachs accused the US of sabotaging the pipeline and citing the radar evidence, he was swiftly pulled off air.
This week, Seymour Hersh published an article titled “How America Took Out The Nord Stream Pipeline.” Hersh cites a source within US intelligence, who offered very specific details about the decision-making and the operation of destroying the pipeline. Allegedly, the US was assisted by Norway in attacking the pipeline. The report by Hersh has renewed Moscow’s calls for openness and its insistence that the culprits must be punished.
The allegations in Hersh’s report are based on a single source and are not hard evidence, although the report certainly warrants a debate and an investigation.
One way or other, we deserve to know who was responsible.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.