Nord Stream Bombing: Another Sloppy Response From the US After Russia Seeks UN Investigation

The United States has come up with another wish-washy response to the Russian demand for impartial probe into the bombing of the Nord Stream gas pipeline to Europe last September.

During a media briefing on Wednesday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the attack on the pipeline did not happen on the US territory and therefore Washington was not in a position to speak about who should probe the incident.

"I would leave it to our partners on whose territory – on whose soil as it were – these blasts occurred to speak to the appropriate investigative mechanisms," Ned Price said during the department's daily briefing.

Nord Stream gas pipeline
Nord Stream gas pipeline Reuters

Seymour Hersh Puts US in the Dock

In the immediate aftermath of the huge explosion that took down the Nord Stream-1 gas pipeline, the US, UK and their allies had implied that the act of sabotage was carried out by Russia. Moscow, in turn denied the charges and pointed the fingers at the western alliance, though it stopped short of directly accusing the US of sabotage.

However, the publication of a scandalous report by Pulitzer prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh early this month gave Russia new fodder and the US more complicated questions to answer.

Hersh, in his Substack article titled 'How America Took Out The Nord Stream Pipeline', said there was clear evidence to show that US President Joe Biden ordered the attack on the pipeline and that several US agencies including the CIA carried out the attack.

How it Happened

Hersh said US Navy divers planted explosives at the pipelines in June last year, under the guise of BALTOPS 22 NATO exercise. The article says that the bombing of the Nord Stream pipeline was the culmination of months-long planning and preparations by the US. President Joe Biden and all his top leadership team participated in a series of top secret discussions in the lead-up to the act.

The White House rejected Hersh's detailed investigative report, saying it was cooked up. "This is utterly false and complete fiction," White House spokesperson Adrienne Watson said. Meanwhile, the CIA and the State Department also denied the US role in the bombing of the key Russian gas pipeline to Europe.

Nord Stream gas leak
The gas leak caused bubbles to break the surface of the water. Twitter

Russian Demand for Probe

In the wake of the report, Russia demanded fresh international investigation into the bombing, saying that Hersh's revelations demonstrate the need for an open international investigation into this unprecedented attack on this critical infrastructure. "It's impossible to leave this without finding the perpetrators and punishing them," Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Pesko said.

Russia, which had earlier put the US and the UK on the dock over the Nord Stream pipeline explosion in September last year, repeated that certain data points suggest the'involvement of the Anglo-Saxons'. Kremlin said the investigation by Hersh is a very important piece that should provoke the acceleration of the international probe. "But we, on the contrary, witness attempts to silently wind down such international investigation," Peskov said.

"The world must find out the truth about who carried out this act of sabotage ... This is a very dangerous precedent: if someone did it once, they can do it again anywhere in the world," Peskov added.

No Credible Defense

However, the US chose to downplay the gravity of the situation and basically ignored its obligation to offer substantive and credible explanations.

Ned Price's latest statement clearly indicates that the US has no credible defense to offer, apart from kicking the tin can down the alley. Washington has effectively said it's up to Denmark and Sweden to investigate the incident as the sabotage happened within those countries' exclusive economic zone.

Nord Stream gas pipeline
Nord Stream gas pipeline Wikipedia

Incidentally, Sweden and Denmark had conducted investigations into the incident and concluded that it was an act of sabotage, but stopped short of concluding who might have done it. While Denmark is a Nato member and US ally, Sweden is attempting to join the US-led anti-Russia security alliance.

Toothless UN Security Council

On Tuesday, Russia formally announced its intention to move a motion asking the UN Security Council to investigate the bombing. Russia says the blasts was 'an act of international terrorism'. Moscow insists that the UN should find those responsible for the sabotage as the criminal act threatened the security of the region.

Meanwhile, when asked about a possible UN probe into the Nord Stream sabotage, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday that the world body would need to "have a mandate, which we don't, clearly."

When journalists asked Ned Price for comment on Russia's motion seeking a UN Security Council meeting on February 22 to discuss the Nord Stream pipeline blast, the US official chose to sidestep the question.

Interestingly, the UN spokesman brushed aside the question as well, raising serious questions about the ability and commitment of the world body to engage in matters of real importance in credible manner. Asked about Russia's demand for a UN probe into the Nord Stream sabotage, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric replied saying that the world body has no mandate. UN needs to "have a mandate, which we don't, clearly," Dujarric said.