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14 Jun, 2023 20:58

CIA knew Russia wasn’t behind Nord Stream attack – WSJ

US media is coalescing around the theory that Ukraine planned on blowing up the pipelines
CIA knew Russia wasn’t behind Nord Stream attack – WSJ

The CIA has known since at least October that Russia did not blow up the Nord Stream gas pipelines, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. While the report claimed that the CIA had attempted to foil a Ukrainian-led plot to bomb the pipelines, a competing report alleges the agency actually carried out the demolition job.

The Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines were destroyed in a series of near-simultaneous explosions off the Danish island of Bornholm in late September. The blasts severed a key conduit for Russian natural gas to Europe, effectively removing the possibility of European countries lifting their sanctions on Moscow and restarting gas purchases.

While US President Joe Biden refrained from blaming Russia for the blasts, US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told the BBC that “it seems” like Moscow was to blame, while Ukraine has publicly and repeatedly accused Russia of sabotaging its own gas lines.

However, CIA Director William Burns told “a European counterpart” in October that “available evidence didn’t point to Russia,” the Wall Street Journal reported, citing an official present at the meeting. When asked if Ukraine was to blame, Burns reportedly answered “I hope not.”

According to the American newspaper, the CIA knew about a Ukrainian plot to bomb the pipelines earlier in 2022, but warned Kiev not to go through with the attack. The agency told its European counterparts in August that Ukraine had agreed and the threat had subsided, but both sets of Nord Stream lines were destroyed a month later.

The Wall Street Journal’s report was published a day after Dutch outlet NOS and Germany’s Die Zeit published similar articles claiming that American spies were tipped off by their Dutch colleagues about the alleged Ukrainian plot, and intervened to prevent it. According to earlier reporting by the New York Times and Der Spiegel, a “pro-Ukrainian group” actually managed to take out the gas lines, using a rented yacht to transport explosives to the blast site.

This entire sequence of events has been dismissed by American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, who claimed in February that the Biden administration ordered the CIA to bomb Nord Stream with the help of the Norwegian Navy. Citing sources in US intelligence, Hersh claimed that the explosives were planted during NATO military drills in the Baltic Sea last June and triggered remotely three months later. The rented yacht story, Hersh said afterwards, was planted in the US and German media as a red herring by the CIA and its German counterpart, the BND.

Washington and Kiev have both denied that they played any part in the sabotage operation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in March that he “fully agrees” with Hersh’s conclusions. The Russian president argued that the US in particular benefited from the attack due to its position as a competing gas supplier to Europe.