Seymour Hersh claims US Navy behind Nord Stream 2 pipeline explosion
WASHINGTON — Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh has alleged US Navy divers laid bombs that destroyed the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea last September, drawing a denial from the Pentagon Wednesday.
Hersh, who scooped journalism’s top award more than five decades ago for exposing the My Lai massacre of Vietnamese civilians by US troops in 1968, cited an unnamed source in reporting on Substack that Americans planted remotely triggered explosives that wrecked three of the four pipelines built to carry natural gas from Russia to Europe.
Hersh, 85, went on to claim that the Navy conducted the operation under the cover of a NATO maritime exercise, BALTOPS 22.
In a short statement, Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Lt. Col. Garron J. Garn told The Post “the United States was not involved in the Nord Stream explosion,” reiterating the Defense Department’s response to the same question in October.
Swedish officials suspected the blasts were the result of “gross sabotage,” and some Western officials were quick to blame the attacks on Moscow as it blocked gas supplies to Europe in response to sanctions over last year’s invasion of Ukraine.
“These are deliberate actions, not an accident,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said at the time. “The situation is as serious as it gets.”
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in response to Hersh’s report that Moscow has “repeatedly expressed” its belief that the US and NATO were involved in the explosions.
Prior to the invasion, President Biden had threatened that the Nord Stream 2 project connecting Russia and Germany would not move forward if an attack took place, causing some to suspect US involvement when the pipelines exploded seven months later.
“If Russia invades — that means tanks or troops crossing the border of Ukraine, again — then there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2,” Biden said on Feb. 7, 2022. “We will bring an end to it.”
While Germany initially resisted canceling the project, it halted the pipeline’s certification two days before the Russian invasion in a last-ditch effort to prevent the war.
Hersh’s report suggested Biden ordered the explosions to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin from “weaponiz[ing] natural gas for his political and territorial ambitions,” as Germany — and the rest of Europe — relied heavily on Russia for natural gas.
Without the pipelines, Europe would be forced to end its reliance on Moscow, starving Russia of billions of dollars that could have been contributed to its war effort, the report alleged.
Hersh, a former reporter for the Associated Press and New York Times as well as a longtime contributor to the New Yorker, quoted White House spokesperson Adrienne Watson as calling his report “false and complete fiction.” Hersh also quoted CIA spokesperson Tammy Thorp, who wrote in an email: “This claim is completely and utterly false.”
Hersh previously drew the wrath of the US government when he claimed in a 2013 interview that the official story of the operation that killed Osama bin Laden was “one big lie.”
Two years later, Hersh published an account in the London Review of Books that claimed the Al Qaeda kingpin was a prisoner of Pakistani authorities at the time he was killed and that the CIA was tipped off to his whereabouts by a member of the country’s powerful intelligence service — rather than bin Laden’s courier, as the Obama administration claimed.
Then-White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Hersh’s report was “riddled with inaccuracy and outright falsehoods,” while former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell told CBS News at the time that he “got a third of the way through [the article] and I stopped because every sentence I was reading was wrong.”