A Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist has alleged that the United States government was behind the destruction of three of the four Nord Stream pipelines last September, describing the planning and execution of the pipelines' sabotage in vivid detail.
Seymour Hersh is a former New York Times and New Yorker reporter who has won numerous awards for exposés on topics such as the Abu Ghraib scandal after the invasion of Iraq. He now claims that a "source with direct knowledge of the operational planning" provided him with details of the sabotage under the Baltic Sea.
Hersh writes that the attack was first conceived in late 2021 by certain members of the Biden administration and that the plan was debated for over nine months, during which the question was not "if" but "how" and "when," the key consideration being to obscure the identity of those responsible. One of the ways in which the project was kept secret was by choosing Navy divers rather than Special Operations officers to carry it out, as covert operations must be briefed in advance to the Senate and House leadership. If the operation was traceable to the United States, said Hersh's source, it would be "an act of war."
Hersh describes Biden and key figures in his administration (National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Tony Blinken, and Undersecretary of State for Policy Victoria Nuland) as "vocal and consistent in their hostility to the two pipelines" that were already operational and stresses that the direct route they traversed, from Russia to Germany, "bypassed any need to transit Ukraine" and were a "boon for the German economy," posing a "threat to western dominance ... [providing] Putin with an additional and much-needed major source of income ... while diminishing European reliance on America."
The construction of Nord Stream 2 was completed in September, 2021, and had it become operational, it would have doubled the amount of gas sent to Germany by Russia. Instead, Germany suspended approval of its opening in November, and in February, when the Russian invasion of Ukraine appeared imminent, US President Biden held a press briefing at which he stated, "If Russia invades ... there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it."
According to Hersh's source, several of those involved in the planned sabotage were taken aback by Biden's words. "It was like putting an atomic bomb on the ground in Tokyo and telling the Japanese that we are going to detonate it," he said. "The plan was for the options to be executed post-invasion and not advertised publicly. Biden simply didn't get it or ignored it."
Ultimately, Hersh claims, US Navy divers in collaboration with the Norwegian government undertook the task. Explosive charges were attached to the pipelines during the June BALTOPS 22 naval exercises in the region which were triggered by a buoy dropped by a Norwegian navy plane.
The explosions occurred in the economic zones of Sweden and Denmark, who both concluded that they were deliberate acts but refrained from apportioning blame. Russia has blamed the West, while the United States and NATO merely referred to the incident as "an act of sabotage." To date, no official source has provided any concrete evidence.
On Wednesday, spokesmen for the CIA and US State Department dismissed Hersh's allegations, which were published on his personal substack. The White House responded that his claims were "utterly false and complete fiction."