The narrative of the Pentagon and Department of Defense that denies the U.S.’s involvement in the demolition of the Nord Stream pipelines is beginning to crumble.
In September 2022, Russia’s Nord Stream pipelines which send natural gas to Europe were sabotaged. The lingering question for months was, “who was responsible?”
The usual game of finger pointing began with Russia as the prime suspect. Mykhailo Podolyak, senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky explicitly blamed Russia, calling it “a terrorist attack planned by Russia and an act of aggression towards E.U.”
At the time, an investigation into the incident by Sweden’s Armed Forces reportedly found a total of four leaks as the result of powerful detonations. Russia’s defense ministry, however, blamed the British Navy for the demolition.
“According to available information, representatives of this unit of the British Navy took part in the planning, provision and implementation of a terrorist attack in the Baltic Sea on September 26 this year— blowing up the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines,” the ministry stated.
In October 2022, retired U.S. Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor, a former Pentagon official, had reportedly attributed the attack to both the United States and Great Britain, saying that they likely sabotaged the Nord Stream pipelines. He argued that the move was meant to deter Germany from removing its support for Ukraine during its war with Russia after its chancellor, Olaf Scholz, reportedly said that he would no longer send the country weapons.
“Would the Russians destroy their own pipeline? 40 percent of Russian gross national product or gross domestic product consists of foreign currency that comes into the country to purchase natural gas, oil, coal and so forth. So, the Russians did not do this. The notion that they did I think is absurd,” Macgregor said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had reiterated this point in October.
The Russian embassy had also reportedly noted exercises being conducted by the U.S. Navy that involved “underwater explosives.”
Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Lt. Col. Garron J. Garn previously told The New York Post that “the United States was not involved in the Nord Stream explosion,” the outlet reported. The statement paralleled the stance from the Department of Defense.
The issue has been reignited following a Substack article from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh, who cited an unnamed source corroborating claims that the United States and Britain were responsible. Hersh begins his piece stating that in June 2022, U.S. Navy divers planted the explosives during a “widely publicized mid-summer NATO exercise known as BALTOPS 22.”
Three months later, on September 26, three of the four Nord Stream pipelines were reportedly destroyed after a “Norwegian Navy P8 surveillance plane made a seemingly routine flight and dropped a sonar buoy,” detonating the explosives.
In response to the report, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Moscow had “repeatedly expressed” its belief in the U.S. and NATO’s role in the sabotage, according to The New York Post.
Hersh alleges that Biden ordered the explosions because he “saw the pipelines as a vehicle for Vladimir Putin to weaponize natural gas for his political and territorial ambitions.”
Adrienne Watson, a White House spokesperson, had reportedly denied the allegations as “false and complete fiction.” CIA spokesperson Tammy Thorp reiterated Watson’s comment, calling the report “completely and utterly false.”
The Post also reported that President Biden had previously made comments on February 7, 2022, threatening to end the Nord Stream pipelines if Russia invaded Ukraine.
“If Russia invades—that means tanks or troops crossing the border of Ukraine, again — then there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2,” Biden said. “We will bring an end to it.”
As Hersh writes:
“Biden’s decision to sabotage the pipelines came after more than nine months of highly secret back and forth debate inside Washington’s national security community about how to best achieve that goal. For much of that time, the issue was not whether to do the mission, but how to get it done with no overt clue as to who was responsible.
There was a vital bureaucratic reason for relying on the graduates of the center’s hardcore diving school in Panama City. The divers were Navy only, and not members of America’s Special Operations Command, whose covert operations must be reported to Congress and briefed in advance to the Senate and House leadership—the so-called Gang of Eight. The Biden Administration was doing everything possible to avoid leaks as the planning took place late in 2021 and into the first months of 2022.”
As the news reaches members of Congress, Republican Senator Mike Lee said that it would be a “huge problem” if the allegations turned out to be true because he and his colleagues were never made briefed on the plan.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti that there must be consequences for those who are responsible, according to Newsweek.
“By and large, yesterday’s publication confirmed a conclusion we made for ourselves—the official representative of the foreign ministry said yesterday that we never had any doubts that the United States, possibly other NATO countries, were involved in this outrageous sabotage,” Ryabkov said, referring to the report from Hersh.
A week before the report was published, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pointed to comments made by U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland during a January 26 Senate hearing. Lavrov said that the comment was evidence the U.S. was behind the sabotage.
Speaking to Senator Ted Cruz on whether Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could have been prevented if the U.S. was successful in sanctioning the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, Nuland reportedly said that the Biden “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.”