Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, who alleged last month that undercover U.S. Navy divers planted remotely triggered explosives on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, burst into laughter after hearing the New York Times claim that a “pro-Ukranian group” carried out the attack.
“What? That can’t be true,” Hersh said, according to a Disclose.tv tweet. “They can’t be that stupid. Are they that stupid?”
According to the Times, U.S. intelligence officials suggested an unnamed “pro-Ukranian group” carried out last September’s attack on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Baltic Sea, which linked natural gas from Russia to Western Europe. Sweden and Denmark reported severe damage to the pipelines in September as natural gas spewed toward the surface.
Officials said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky or the national government were not involved in the attack and declined to disclose additional information surrounding the new intelligence obtained. The anonymous officials cited by the Times offered no specifics on the shadowy group they said blew up the pipeline but insisted the attack did not involve the U.S. or United Kingdom.
“Oh my God — ‘Intelligence suggests Ukranian …,’” Hersh said before dissolving into laughter. “Oh, my God. Oh my God.”
Hersh published an extensive report on Substack alleging undercover U.S. Navy divers planted explosives on the pipeline during training exercises last summer.
Based on an unnamed source’s testimony, the report claimed that President Joe Biden viewed the pipelines as an avenue through which Russian President Vladimir Putin could weaponize his country’s natural gas supply for his territorial ambitions.
White House spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the notion that the United States destroyed the pipelines was “false and complete fiction,” while CIA spokesperson Tammy Thorp said the claim was “completely and utterly false” when asked for comment by Hersh.
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Some European officials said Russia may have destroyed its own pipelines; others blamed the United States.
The twin Nord Stream pipelines have been at the center of geopolitical strife since the Russia-Ukraine war began more than a year ago. Months into the conflict, Russia nixed shipments through Nord Stream 1 as a retaliatory measure against Western Europe, while Germany blocked the adjacent Nord Stream 2 from initiating shipments days before the war started.
Just before the war began, President Joe Biden warned “there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2” if Russia crossed the Ukrainian border and insisted to a journalist that “we will be able” to bring an “end” to the system.
The commander-in-chief initially waived sanctions against the Russian-owned company behind Nord Stream 2, although he reimposed sanctions shortly before the invasion started.
After Nord Stream 2 was destroyed, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the phenomenon a “tremendous opportunity” to end European reliance on Russian energy supplies. Even though the pipelines were not pumping natural gas, protesters in Germany had been calling for the energy flow to resume as electricity prices increased more than twentyfold. Crippling the pipelines eliminated the possibility of Germany lifting sanctions in time to import natural gas for the winter.
Hersh, an investigative journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for exposing the clandestine My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War, reportedly plans on publishing a new investigation about Nord Stream.
“I’ve written a couple of things about it,” he said. “I’m going to write something next week about it, and that’s the way I do it.”
UPDATE – U.S. journalist Seymour Hersh says, “they can’t be that stupid” in reaction to NYT’s article claiming a “pro-Ukrainian group” carried out the Nord Stream attacks. pic.twitter.com/SB2RK9Xekk
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) March 8, 2023
Ben Zeisloft contributed to this report.