US Believes Pro-Ukrainian Groups Bombed Nord Stream Pipeline, Says Report; Hersh Declines to Assess Credibility of Claim

Curated By: Shankhyaneel Sarkar

Last Updated: March 08, 2023, 10:14 IST

Washington, United States

Gas bubbles from the Nord Stream 2 leak reaching surface of the Baltic Sea in the area shows disturbance of well over one kilometre diameter near Bornholm, Denmark (Image: Reuters)

Gas bubbles from the Nord Stream 2 leak reaching surface of the Baltic Sea in the area shows disturbance of well over one kilometre diameter near Bornholm, Denmark (Image: Reuters)

Seymour Hersh, a month ago, said that the explosions which took out the Nord Stream pipelines were carried out by the US with help from Norwegian officials

New intel reports seen by American officials suggest pro-Ukrainian groups were behind the bombing of the Nord Stream pipelines last year. The report by the New York Times comes a month after investigative journalist Seymour Hersh said the US was responsible for bombing the Nord Stream pipeline.

The US officials told the New York Times that they do not possess any evidence that links President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine or his top lieutenants.

The New York Times report citing American intelligence officials said they do not have much information about the perpetrators and their affiliations. They said those involved are detractors of the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin but they did not specify who paid for the operation.

The report also claimed that Ukraine and its allies are being considered parties who have the potential motive to attack the pipelines citing their opposition to the project for years and how some of them perceived it as a national security threat.

Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to Zelensky, however, denied the claims and posted on Twitter that Ukraine has nothing to do with the bombing of Nord Stream pipelines and added that he possessed no information on pro-Ukrainian “sabotage groups.”

US officials added that they have not found any evidence of the Russian government’s involvement in the attack. The pipelines were ripped apart following an explosion in September and the repair work is expected to cost at least $500 million.

The New York Times reported that the attack may have been carried out off the books by a proxy force with connections to the Ukrainian government or the Ukrainian secret services but the officials also speculated that the saboteurs were most likely Ukrainian or Russian nationals.

They, however, told the news agency that there are no firm conclusions about their findings.

The officials, unlike their European counterparts, do not yet believe that the operation had state-support. European intelligence officials have publicly said that the attack on Nord Stream was probably state sponsored.

The European intelligence officials said that the attack was state-sponsored because of the sophisticated nature of the attack. The fact that those responsible were able to plant and detonate the explosives on the floor of the Baltic Sea without being detected led European intelligence officials to believe that the attack on the pipeline was state-backed.

Following the explosions in September, there has been a lot of speculation and blame game regarding what exactly happened on the seafloor near the shallow waters of Danish island of Bornholm.

US officials told the New York Times that despite the lack of clarity they are considering the involvement of Ukrainian elements in bombing of the Nord Stream pipeline as an important lead.

The political establishment, however, fears that such a move could hurt ties between Ukraine and Germany as German people face problems due to high energy prices.

Hersh Doesn’t Want to ‘Get Into It’

Seymour Hersh, the Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist, told Russian news agency TASS that he does not want to get involved in the debate surrounding the credibility of the New York Times report.

“I don’t want to get into it. You should decide for yourself. It’s up to you,” Hersh told TASS.

Seymour Hersh, on February 8, in an article published on the Substack page, said that explosives under the Russian Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines were planted by US Navy divers, helped by Norwegian specialists, citing people familiar with the developments.

He was quickly denounced by Western media outlets but some rightwing and even some leftwing news outlets and personalities in the US extended support to him given his experience and his reputation.

Hersh in his report said that the explosives were planted under the cover of a widely publicised NATO exercise (BALTOPS 22) in June 2022 and later triggered remotely.

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