Russia demands those responsible for Nord Stream blasts must be named and punished after investigative reporter claims Joe Biden ordered US navy to destroy the gas pipe
- Investigative reporter claimed a source said US navy divers destroyed pipelines
- Peskov said the world should know who was behind the attacks on Nord Stream
- The White House said that the report was ‘utterly false and complete fiction’
- Investigators found explosives at blast sites after the explosions in September
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said today the world must should know the truth about who allegedly sabotaged the Nord Stream gas pipelines in September.
The comments follow claims from American investigative reporter and Pulitzer Prize-winner Seymour Hersh that US navy divers destroyed the pipelines with explosives on the orders of President Joe Biden.
The White House dismissed the allegations, made to Hersh by an anonymous source, as ‘utterly false and complete fiction’.
Peskov said the article posted on Hersh’s blog on 8 February deserved more attention and that he was surprised it had not been covered more fully by Western media.
He told reporters: ‘The world must find out the truth about who carried out this act of sabotage.
‘This is a very dangerous precedent: if someone did it once, they can do it again anywhere in the world.’
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov pictured at a news conference in December 2022
Peskov called for an international investigation into the causes of the attacks on the Nord Steam pipelines.
In September, underwater explosions ruptured Gazprom’s Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines that link Russia and Germany across the Baltic Sea.
In November, Sweden confirmed damage to the pipelines was caused by ‘gross sabotage’ as traces of explosives were found during investigations.
Nobody has claimed any responsibility for the attack, and some have suggested Russia destroyed its own pipelines.
Russia also previously blamed ‘Anglo Saxon’ powers for the attack, which the UK denied.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov then pinned the blame on the United States earlier this year.
American spokespeople have repeatedly denied their involvement in the attack.
However, the journalist Seymour Hersh claims, in a blog post entitled ‘How America Took Out the Nord Steam Pipeline’, that a plan was hatched in 2021 – before the war in Ukraine started – to destroy the contentious pipelines.
The pipelines represent huge economic potential for Russia, as well as better access to European markets and – until the war – deeper European reliance on Russian energy.
Russia has also been accused of carrying out the Nord Stream gas explosions. Explanations range from divers to spy subs, and underwater drones, with one possible motive being to cripple Europe’s winter energy supplies
The Russian alibi
The destruction of the pipeline appears to be a major blow to Russia’s energy-driven economy, as the damage would prevent billions of dollars’ worth of gas flowing into Europe.
With the pipelines, Russia was also able to limit the flow of gas, giving the country leverage over Europe with greater control of its energy supply.
The completion of Nord Stream 2 in September 2021 would have allowed Russia to continue supplying Germany with gas even if it were to shut off the supply to intermediary countries including Poland and Ukraine.
The European alibi
The destruction of the pipeline has exacerbated an energy crisis that was already spiralling out of control.
In February 2022, before the start of the war, Russia supplied Europe with 39% of its gas.
Suddenly disrupting the energy supply and price forecasts has significantly increased the cost of heating homes and keeping the power on across the continent.
Germany once supported the building of the pipeline, hoping interdependence would build bridges and soothe tensions with Russia.
The American alibi
The US was a staunch opponent of the building of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, threatening to sanction companies working on it even before the war and saying the project was a plan to ‘divide Europe and weaken European energy security’ in March 2021.
However, these comments came at the start of the pandemic before the significant increase in wholesale energy prices.
Additionally, Europe had already started to switch reliance on Russian gas by importing American liquified natural gas (LNG) months before the attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen affirmed the European commitment to ‘become independent from Russian oil, coal and gas’ as early as March 2022, which benefitted the United States.
Peskov also struck a note of caution about treating a blog as a primary source.
US President Joe Biden waves before boarding Marine One on Wednesday 8 February 2023
Seymour Hersh (R) is an investigative journalist who says the US destroyed Russia’s pipelines
Seymour Hersh’s report published on Wednesday cites two key reasons the United States might have plotted an attack against the pipeline: in retaliation for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and to prevent the Kremlin from weaponizing its energy supplies to Europe.
Hersh’s 5,000-word report, published to his Substack blog, cites a single, anonymous source with ‘with direct knowledge of the operational planning’.
The source disclosed an elaborate, dangerous and top-secret mission that involved U.S. Navy divers planting C4 explosives on the pipeline which were detonated three months later by a sonar buoy dropped by a Norwegian surveillance aircraft. Norway has also said ‘these allegations are false’.
The plot, which was said to have been overseen by President Joe Biden, is not only elaborate and extremely technical. The international backlash if the the U.S. was found to have carried out such an operation would be massive.
The CIA has also flatly denied any US involvement in the pipeline attacks.
Russia has been accused by several western countries of the attack, described by some as an act of self-sabotage.
Officials in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy’s administration have also blamed Russia for the Nord Stream bombing
Theories for why the Kremlin would order such an operation against infrastructure that the Russian economy relies upon include halting the flow of energy to Europe as winter approached.
Russia’s attacks against civilian infrastructure in Ukraine also increased suspicion on Vladimir Putin.
In the immediate aftermath, senior U.S. officials, including Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, said it ‘seems’ Russia was to blame. Members of the German government expressed similar suspicions.
Ukraine said the blasts were ‘a terrorist attack planned by Russia and an act of aggression toward [the European Union]’.
But a Washington Post report in December said officials in several countries were not convinced that Russia conducted the attacks.
A European official told the Post ‘there is no evidence at this point that Russia was behind the sabotage’, and the report said the assessment echoed the views of 23 other diplomatic and intelligence officials in nine countries.
Russia has attempted to lay the blame at the feet of several western nations.
In October, a little over one month after the incident, Russia’s defense ministry said British Navy personnel launched the attack. A statement accused the UK military of ‘the planning, provision and implementation of a terrorist attack in the Baltic Sea’.
Britain said the Kremlin was ‘peddling false claims of an epic scale’ to ‘detract from their disastrous handling of the illegal invasion of Ukraine’.
Unsurprisingly, Russia has pounced on the latest claim of US involvement and demanded the White House address the ‘facts’ reported by Hersh.
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