A US-based journalist has claimed that a plan to sabotage the Nord Stream underwater natural gas pipelines was created in late 2021 as a means of pressuring Russia and deterring it from initiating its 'special military operation' in Ukraine. In an interview published on Monday in the German magazine Tichys Einblick, Seymour Hersh said that the sabotage was conspired "just before New Year's Eve in 2021, probably around Christmas".
"The idea was to find something out of the ordinary that the (US) president could use, a lure or a threat to convince (Russian President Vladimir) Putin not to start a military operation (in Ukraine)," Hersh said in the interview. "Above all, it was a threat. I don't think this (US) government is very good at persuasion. They function more along the lines of ‘You are with us or against us.’ The idea was to tell Putin: If you cross the border into Ukraine, we will blow up the pipelines," he added.
Nord Stream AG announced on September 27 last year that there had been significant damage to three sections of its Nord Stream pipeline, following two explosions detected by Swedish seismologists on September 26 along the pipeline's route. Russian prosecutors have launched an investigation into the incident, treating it as an attack carried out by international terrorists.
On February 8, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh published an article alleging that US Navy divers, with the assistance of Norwegian specialists, planted explosives beneath Russia's Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines during the Baltops exercise in June 2022. According to Hersh's source, the operation was authorised by US President Joe Biden after nine months of discussions with the national security staff.
In February 2022, two weeks prior to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, US President Joe Biden made a promise to "bring an end" to Nord Stream in the event of Russian forces entering Ukraine. In the aftermath of the invasion, Washington and its allies imposed comprehensive sanctions on Moscow and provided Kyiv with heavy weaponry, such as tanks and artillery.
The White House has rejected any involvement in the alleged pipeline sabotage, dismissing Seymour Hersh's story as "utterly false and complete fiction".
In March, several news outlets reported that a pro-Ukrainian group may have been responsible for the pipeline sabotage, acting independently. However, Kyiv denied any involvement in the attack. On the other hand, Russia claimed that these reports were an attempt to divert attention from Seymour Hersh's investigation.
Last month, the United Nations (UN) Security Council dismissed Russia's proposal to establish an international commission to investigate the Nord Stream pipeline sabotage.
Dmitry Polyansky, Russia’s deputy envoy to the UN, told Russian newspaper Izvestia on Tuesday that “Western countries, especially the US, are not interested in an objective international investigation”. Instead, they are “interested in covering the tracks and leading investigators down the wrong path,” he insisted.