After explosions near the Danish island of Bornholm, methane leaks from the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines were identified at the end of September. The explosion sites are located in international waters within the Danish and Swedish exclusive economic zones. In addition to Germany, both nations are undertaking their investigations. Russia has not been given access to the explosion site. In November, Swedish security authorities stated that it was planned sabotage. Seymour Hersh, an American investigative journalist, accuses the U.S. government of it.
Western media report the explosion as a mystery. It has frequently identified Russia as the likely perpetrator, a claim the White House has backed. Moscow, on the other hand, focused on assessing the expenses associated with pipeline restoration. After the Swedish State Security Service (Sakerhetspolisen) confirmed the sabotage in November, prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist reported the discovery of explosive remnants at the blast site. Since then, however, no additional information has been revealed.
Last week, the German weekly Welt AM Sonntag reported on the investigation’s status. At this time, U.S. investigators have no proof of Russian guilt. Peter Frank, the prosecutor in charge, told the Weekly that it could not be established while the inquiry is ongoing. According to him, the crime scene was meticulously documented, and water, soil, and pipe samples were collected.
Reputed American journalist Seymour Hersh ties the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline disruption to the U.S. government. In his essay published on Wednesday, he cites an anonymous source with knowledge of operations strategy. U.S. official websites refute Hersh’s opinion. White House spokeswoman Adrienne Watson called it incorrect and pure fiction. Similarly, CIA spokeswoman Tammy Thorpe said the accusation is entirely and utterly incorrect.
The American journalist noted that the decision to damage the pipelines occurred after more than nine months of top secret debates inside the Washington intelligence community. Throughout most of this time, the question was not whether to carry out the operation but how to do so without tipping off the U.S. government. The White House’s primary objective was to prevent Moscow from considerably boosting its income while simultaneously reducing the dependence of Western Europe, particularly Germany, on inexpensive Russian gas.
NATO and Washington viewed Nord Stream 1 as problematic enough, but the completion of Nord Stream 2 in September 2021 heightened American anxieties even further. If approved by German regulatory authorities, it would double the flow of inexpensive gas to Germany and Western Europe. Its capacity may accommodate more than fifty per cent of the nation’s annual usage. The U.S. viewed Europe’s reliance on Russian gas as a risk to Ukraine’s backing, as countries like Germany could be unwilling to contribute the necessary funds and weaponry.
Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser to U.S. President Joe Biden, hosted the first meeting of the newly created task team in December 2021. According to the article by Seymour Hersh, Sullivan anticipated from her a strategy to satisfy Biden’s desire to demolish both Nord Stream gas pipelines. During multiple subsequent meetings, participants discussed a variety of options. The Navy advocated directly attacking the pipeline with a newly launched submarine. The Air Force discussed dropping bombs with remotely detonatable delayed detonators. The CIA requested that everything be kept secret.
One member of the committee finally proposed deploying deep-sea divers. Subsequently, the CIA initiated preparations for a covert operation in the Baltic Sea. Beginning in Norway, the plan was finalised at the start of the year 2022. The Americans despise the Russians, and their Navy comprises great sailors and divers with vast experience in high-yield deep-sea oil and gas research, an anonymous source stated Hersh. Additionally, the American journalist mentions Norwegian economic interests. The collapse of the Nord Stream enabled Oslo to increase its natural gas exports to Europe significantly.
A few kilometres from the Danish island of Bornholm has been designated by the Norwegian Navy as the optimal location for the operation in the shallow seas of the Baltic Sea. The two gas pipes are separated by approximately one kilometre and travel at a depth of only eighty metres. Any unusual undersea action in the waters off Bornholm would attract their attention; hence Oslo insisted on warning Denmark and Sweden of potential diving activity in the area. Someone high up in the Danish and Swedish fleets can help keep the report out of the chain of command and keep the strange event under wraps.
In addition, the Norwegians suggested a solution to the critical question of when the operation should occur, namely during the BALTOPS military exercise. The U.S. Sixth Fleet has staged a big NATO exercise in the Baltic Sea for the past 21 years, including participation from dozens of allies. The June BALTOPS 22 drill allegedly functioned as a cover for the placement of explosives. The White House persuaded Sixth Fleet planners to include diving exercises in the schedule. The operation at sea was to take place off the shore of the island of Bornholm, with teams involved in searching for and dismantling placed mines.
During BALTOPS 22, the C4 linked to the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipes had a delayed timing device capable of initiating sequences of distinct low-frequency tones. A unique sonar buoy took care of the acoustic activation. On September 26 last year, a Norwegian P8 observation plane was shot down near Bornholm during a seemingly ordinary flight. The signal propagated underwater, reaching Nord Stream 2 and Nord Stream 1 pipelines. Several hours later, C4 exploded, destroying three of the four pipes. Within a few minutes, it could detect methane remaining in closed gas pipelines spreading over the water’s surface. The globe quickly discovered that something irreversible had occurred.
Why Russia would want to damage its profitable gas pipelines was never apparent. Perhaps only retribution is offered for Western support of Ukraine, but by preventing the lucrative sale of gas through Nord Stream, Moscow would mostly punish itself. According to Hersh, a more compelling reason was supplied by the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken. At a press conference in September of last year, when Blinken was asked about the effects of the worsening energy crisis in Western Europe, he viewed this moment positively. He said it was a tremendous opportunity to eliminate Russian energy dependence once and for all, thereby removing Vladimir Putin’s ability to use energy as a tool to advance his imperial agenda.
The inquiry into the sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines has yet to be concluded, and no fresh information has been made public since the fall of last year. American writer Seymour Hersh reasonably explains why the United States and Norway could be interested in its execution. His portrayal of the planning and execution of the covert operation by U.S. authorities is based largely on communications from unnamed sources that cannot be independently confirmed. The findings of official investigations in Denmark, Germany, and Sweden will only validate such speculations.