APRIL 11TH, 2023
No one but the terminally naïve should be surprised that security services lie – and that they are all but certain to cover their tracks when they carry out operations that either violate domestic or international law or that would be near-universally rejected by their own populations.
Which is reason enough why anyone following the fallout from explosions last September that ripped holes in three of the four Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea supplying Russian gas to Europe should be wary of accepting anything Western agencies have to say on the matter.
In fact, the only thing that Western publics should trust is the consensus among “investigators” that the three simultaneous blasts deep underwater on the pipelines – a fourth charge apparently failed to detonate – were sabotage, not some freak coincidental accident.
Someone blew up the Nord Stream pipelines, creating an untold environmental catastrophe as the pipes leaked huge quantities of methane, a supremely active global-warming gas. It was an act of unrivaled industrial and environmental terrorism.
If Washington had been able to pin the explosions on Russia, as it initially hoped, it would have done so with full vigor. There is nothing Western states would like more than to intensify world fury against Moscow, especially in the context of NATO’s express efforts to “weaken” Russia through a proxy war waged in Ukraine.
But, after the claim made the rounds of front pages for a week or two, the story of Russia destroying its own pipelines was quietly shelved. That was partly because it seemed too difficult to maintain a narrative in which Moscow chose to destroy a critical part of its own energy infrastructure.
Not only did the explosions cause Russia great financial harm – the country’s gas and oil revenues regularly financed nearly half of its annual budget – but the blasts removed Moscow’s chief influence over Germany, which had been until then heavily dependent on Russian gas. The initial media story required the Western public to believe that President Vladimir Putin willingly shot himself in the foot, losing his only leverage over European resolve to impose economic sanctions on his country.
But even more than the complete lack of a Russian motive, Western states knew they would be unable to build a plausible forensic case against Moscow for the Nord Stream blasts.
Instead, with no chance to milk the explosions for propaganda value, official Western interest in explaining what had happened to the Nord Stream pipelines wilted, despite the enormity of the event. That was reflected for months in an almost complete absence of media coverage.
When the matter was raised, it was to argue that separate investigations by Sweden, Germany and Denmark were all drawing a blank. Sweden even refused to share any of its findings with Germany and Denmark, arguing that to do so would harm its “national security.”
No one, again including the Western media, raised an eyebrow or showed a flicker of interest in what might be really going on behind the scenes. Western states and their compliant corporate media seemed quite ready to settle for the conclusion that this was a mystery cocooned in an enigma.
ISOLATED AND FRIENDLESS
It might have stayed that way forever, except that in February, a journalist – one of the most acclaimed investigative reporters of the past half-century – produced an account that finally demystified the explosions. Drawing on at least one anonymous, highly placed informant, Seymour Hersh pointed the finger for the explosions directly at the US administration and President Joe Biden himself.
Hersh’s detailed retelling of the planning and execution of the Nord Stream blasts had the advantage – at least for those interested in getting to the truth of what took place – that his account fitted the known circumstantial evidence.
Key Washington figures, from President Biden to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and his senior neoconservative official Victoria Nuland – a stalwart of the murky U.S., anti-Russia meddling in Ukraine over the past decade – had either called for the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines or celebrated the blasts shortly after they took place.
If anyone had a motive for blowing up the Russian pipelines – and a self-declared one at that – it was the Biden administration. They opposed the Nord Stream 1 and 2 projects from the outset – and for exactly the same reason that Moscow so richly prized them.
In particular, the second pair of pipelines, Nord Stream 2, which was completed in September 2021, would double the amount of cheap Russian gas available to Germany and Western Europe. The only obstacle in its path was the hesitancy of German regulators. They delayed approval in November 2021.
Nord Stream meant major European countries, most especially Germany, would be completely dependent for the bulk of their energy supplies on Russia. That deeply conflicted with U.S. interests. For two decades, Washington had been expanding NATO as an anti-Moscow military alliance embracing ever more of Europe, to the point of butting up aggressively against Russia’s borders.
The Ukrainian government’s covert efforts to become a NATO member – thereby destroying a long-standing mutual and fragile nuclear deterrence between Washington and Moscow – were among the stated reasons why Russia invaded its neighbor in February last year.