It seemed the media had largely forgotten about the Nord Stream sabotage – the most destructive attack on Western infrastructure since 9/11. Then yesterday, this headline appeared in the Washington Post: ‘No conclusive evidence Russia is behind Nord Stream attack’.
You don’t say! But the piece is actually worth reading.
According to the Post, “numerous” officials say “privately” that Russia may not be to blame. One even said, “There is no evidence” that Russia was behind the attack – an assessment which echoes that of “23 diplomatic and intelligence officials in nine countries interviewed in recent weeks”.
In other words: when speaking off the record, many officials don’t buy the official narrative that Russia blew up its own multi-billion dollar pipelines and in the process squandered its main leverage over Europe…
There’s more. “The United States routinely intercepts the communications of Russian officials and military forces,” the Post writes. “But so far, analysts have not heard or read statements from the Russian side taking credit or suggesting that they’re trying to cover up their involvement”.
On the other hand, some officials still believe Russia is the most likely culprit. Their preferred explanation: Russia carried out the attack to demonstrate that “pipelines, cables and other undersea infrastructure were vulnerable”. In other words: they blew up their own pipelines to signal they’re capable of blowing up pipelines.
I don’t know about you but this doesn’t seem very likely. Did anyone doubt that Russia has the capability to target undersea infrastructure? And if the Russians wanted to send a signal, wouldn’t they have given a hint that it was them, while maintaining plausible deniability (like when they claim such-and-such “fell out of a window”).
What’s more, why go as far as critically damaging the pipelines? Setting off an explosion in their vicinity – so that Europe got the message – would have accomplished the same thing.
As I noted before, the only real piece of evidence suggesting it was Russia is the fact that one of the lines comprising Nord Stream 2 may still be operational. Perhaps Russia sabotaged the pipelines as a way to force Europe to open Nord Stream 2 and thereby violate its own sanctions? Maybe, though I’m not convinced.
Returning to the article, I found this part amusing:
“No one on the European side of the ocean is thinking this is anything other than Russian sabotage,” a senior European environmental official told The Washington Post in September … But as the investigation drags on, skeptics point out that Moscow had little to gain from damaging pipelines that fed Western Europe natural gas from Russia and generated billions of dollars in annual revenue.
Err, “skeptics” were pointing this out as soon as we heard of the sabotage. Because it’s glaringly obvious.
What the article doesn’t mention is which other country might be responsible, such as the U.S., Poland or Ukraine. A newspaper whose slogan is “Democracy Dies in Darkness” entertaining theories that are inconvenient for the U.S. government is apparently too much to ask. Having said that, I wasn’t expecting them to publish what they did. Baby steps, I guess.