German und US media present unsubstantiated alternative version of the Nord Stream pipelines' sabotage – diverting well-founded suspicion from the United States.
German und US media are trying to divert from the well-founded suspicion of the US government's responsibility for the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline by presenting an alternative version. According to reports published on Tuesday on both sides of the Atlantic and based on anonymous US government sources and unconfirmed investigations, a group of six, possibly Ukrainian or Russian nationals, is believed to have single-handedly committed the sabotage with a yacht rented in Rostock – with no indications of government involvement. This is quite astonishing since, up to now, government responsibility was considered to be the only established fact, due to the enormous resources required. To support the alternative version of the crime, German investigators are said to have discovered traces of explosives on a table in the yacht in January – nearly four months after the sabotage. Above all, the alternative version serves one purpose: to divert suspicion from the USA, which bears responsibility for the crime – according to the research by the US journalist Seymour Hersh.
A State as Perpetrator
The investigative US journalist Seymour Hersh recently provided a coherent explanation of the attack on the Nord Stream pipelines based on at least one insider source. Hersh's explanation was in line with the widely shared and never seriously disputed conviction that only state forces could have been capable of carrying out the sabotage. It is apparent., that the necessary knowledge of the pipeline trajectories, the ability to transport huge quantities of explosives to the crime scenes, along with the special equipment needed for deep-sea diving operations are – particularly in combination – accessible only to state agencies. In the period immediately following the attack, it was always insinuated that Russia was responsible of the crime, with some politicians and media explicitly accusing Moscow. However, this claim was deemed so unlikely that, US media, referring to numerous sources in diplomacy and intelligence services, reported that not a single shred of evidence of Russian involvement can be presented. The New York Times quoted a West European government official admitting, “the rationale that it was Russia never made sense to me.”
Hersh reports that the blowing up of the pipelines had been ordered by the US government and subsequently concretely planned by US authorities. US divers had planted the explosives in June 2022 during the largescale Baltic Sea maneuvers (BALTOPS 2022) on the natural gas pipelines. The detonators were finally activated on September 26 from a sonar buoy, that had been dropped by a Norwegian maritime reconnaissance and patrol aircraft. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) Hersh plausibly described not only the sequence of events in accordance with known facts, he also stated the motive: The US administration had wanted to make it absolutely impossible for the German government to positively respond to the Russian offer to resume gas deliveries. Hersh was slandered for his research, as the “master ... of fantasies,” who was sacrificing his excellent reputation “to the conspiracy business.” So-called fact checkers tried to disprove his theses. They were referring to allegedly independent sources from the Bundeswehr or falsely translating the phrase “plant shaped C4 charges” to mean “C4 explosives in the form of plants,” to then rule this out as “unlikely.”
Alternative Version of the Crime
Since Tuesday, the media, initially in the USA, but then also in Germany, has been describing an alternative version of the crime, based heavily on anonymous US government personnel – in other words, from the same authorities Hersh accuses of the crime. Initially, the New York Times reported that the sabotage had been carried out “by opponents of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.” The saboteurs were most likely Ukrainian or Russian nationals. The latter alludes to the fact that, on March 2, the Russian fascist Denis Kapustin had invaded the Russian region of Bryansk from Ukraine with a militia known as the “Russian Volunteer Corps.” The militia, which murdered at least 2 people in the course of the invasion, belongs to the current – within the Russian extreme right milieu – that is not oriented on a Russian empire, but rather on a smaller Russian nation-state that is “ethnically pure” according to national criteria and is fiercely opposing the government under President Vladimir Putin. The New York Times provided no tangible evidence to back up their alternative version of the crime. On the contrary, it had to admit that even US government officials “are divided” about how much weight to put on the new information.
Delayed Discovery of Explosives
German media, which also published initial reports on Tuesday with the alternative version of the crime, were a bit more concrete. According to these reports, the assault was carried out by six persons of unknown nationality – the “group was comprised of a captain, two divers, two diving assistants and a female doctor.” On September 6, the group allegedly loaded explosives onto a yacht in Rostock, that had been chartered by a Polish-registered company owned by two Ukrainian nationals. The vessel was then spotted on September 7, in Wieck on the Darss Peninsula, and later on the Danish Island of Christiansø, northeast of Bornholm. Traces of explosives were said to be found on the table in the vessel’s cabin. However, the search of the yacht did not take place until January 18 – 20, nearly four months after the attack. How it could be proven that these traces of explosives were already on the table on September 6, or had appeared sometime thereafter, is unclear. Just as unclear is how the group of six were able to single-handedly carry out an operation, of which only one thing was considered certain: that it required the capabilities of state structures.
Doubts about this alternative version of the crime had already been expressed on Tuesday evening by Göran Swistek, a frigate captain, currently working for the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). According to Swistek, these descriptions “are not really coherent.” “This does not sound very convincing to me.” The handling of explosives and detonators alone, as well as diving in extreme depths “often requires years of training, particularly in the military.” Although the British Navy began training members of the Ukrainian naval forces in diving as well as how to handle mines back in 2019, there is, however, no evidence of links to current, or even former Ukrainian naval divers. In any case, this totally unsubstantiated alternative version of the crime does but one thing in particular: it creates a possibility to force Seymour Hersh’s research out of general media coverage – and with it, simultaneously eclipse the politically uncomfortable fact that presumably one of Germany’s closest allies does not shy away from sabotaging the German energy infrastructure and even destroying its fundamental elements, for reasons of political opportunity. The alternative version of the crime, although significantly less plausible then Hersh’s version, proves to serve as a lifeline for the transatlantic alliance policy.
 See also Crime Scene Baltic Sea.
 See also Tatort Ostsee (II).
 See also Tatort Ostsee (III).
 Stefan Kornelius: Seymour Hersh. Süddeutsche Zeitung 10.02.2023.
 ARD blamiert sich mit Übersetzungsfehler. t-online.de 24.02.2023.
 Adam Entous, Julian E. Barnes, Adam Goldman: Intelligence Suggests Pro-Ukrainian Group Sabotaged Pipelines, U.S. Officials Say. nytimes.com 07.03.2023.
 Benjamin Reuter: Kreml-Gegner in Brjansk. tagesspiegel.de 02.03.2023.
 Michael Götschenberg, Georg Heil, Holger Schmidt: Spuren führen in die Ukraine. tagesschau.de 07.03.2023.
 Deutsche Ermittler durchsuchten verdächtiges Schiff. n-tv.de 08.03.2023.
 Wie plausibel sind die Nord-Stream-Berichte? zdf.de 07.03.2023.
 Royal Navy divers share expertise with Ukrainian Navy. royalnavy.mod.uk 08.10.2019. Andrew Chuter: Britain moves to boost Ukraine’s naval chops. defensenews.com 19.08.2020.