Jeffrey Sachs

Who really blew up the Nord Stream 2 pipeline?

February 15, 2023
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On the 26th of September last year, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was sabotaged. Despite months of investigations from multiple countries involving deep-sea diving expeditions and sonar detection, no culprit has been found.

During this time, theories spread as to who was behind the attack. Was it Russia? Or, more sensationally, the US? Someone else?

Suspicions about the US were first raised when former Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski tweeted a message of thanks to the USA following the attack, which he later deleted. Viral clips of Joe Biden two weeks before the invasion then circulated, in which the President said: “If Russia invades, that means tanks or troops crossing the border of Ukraine again, there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2.”

Although most mainstream publications kept their powder dry about who the guilty party was, other independent journalists decided to take the plunge. Last week, a Substack article by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh, entitled ‘How America took out the Nord Stream Pipeline’ was published, in which Hersh alleged — based on a single, unnamed source — that it was US Navy divers who, using a NATO military exercise as a cover, planted mines along the Nord Stream 2 pipelines that were later detonated remotely. These allegations were strenuously denied by the White House.

This is the most detailed account yet of America’s supposed involvement, but Hersh is not the first to make such claims. Indeed, shortly after the explosion it was another public figure, Jeffrey Sachs, who was leading the charge, claiming that America was the guilty party. Sachs is a world-renowned economist, professor of Public Policy at Columbia University and former Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General. He joined Freddie Sayers to discuss why he believed that the big mystery as to who was behind the attack was no mystery at all:

This was not an easy operation to carry out. It’s the kind of operation that the CIA and other covert parts of the US government do carry out rather routinely, by the way[…] the United States was basically the only country with the motive, the means.
- Jeffrey Sachs

America’s history of interference abroad is well-documented, but did other countries not have a motive too? Other likely suspects could feasibly include Ukraine, but also Russia itself — chaotic, irrational behaviour is not an uncommon characteristic of Putin’s Russia. Besides, was it not a slight stretch of the imagination to claim that the US would order the destruction of a piece of public infrastructure that partly belongs to a NATO ally?

Sachs dismissed these questions as as “absurd” and declared that those who didn’t believe America would act against allies in pursuit of its own interests “don’t really know the US.” He believes that decades of antagonistic relations with Russia culminated in the Nord Stream attack, which American foreign policymakers have long viewed as a threat. 

According to Sachs, the America neoconservative view of Russia and the war has now become mainstream. Where Europe’s acquisition of cheap Russian gas was once viewed as ‘trade’, it is now seen as a dependency. That said, the small detail of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may have played a part in that.

Freddie Sayers challenges Sachs on a number of these points. What is indisputably clear, however, is that no argument has, as of yet, found a smoking gun. This robust interview raises important questions and leaves many wondering why there continues to be no official lead in this mystery.

The interview took place on Monday 13th February 2023.


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