John Kirby Says Nord Stream Pipeline Blast Was ‘Act of Sabotage,’ US Not Involved

Lorenz Duchamps
By Lorenz Duchamps
March 23, 2023US News
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John Kirby Says Nord Stream Pipeline Blast Was ‘Act of Sabotage,’ US Not Involved
National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby speaks during the daily briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, on March 21, 2023. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby announced Wednesday that the United States continues to believe that “an act of sabotage” caused explosions that damaged Russia’s undersea Nord Stream gas pipelines last year.

“We still do believe it was an act of sabotage,” Kirby said during a press briefing at the White House, denying reports alleging Washington was behind the attack.

“The United States was not involved in any way, contrary to some press reporting out there,” he said. “We need to let the work of these investigators go on. And it needs to go on unimpeded and without any influence or pressure from anybody else.”

In early February, longtime investigative journalist Seymour Hersh claimed in a report that the U.S. government destroyed a section of the pipelines, adding that Washington had planned the destruction of the system since before the Russia–Ukraine war broke out.

White House spokesperson Adrienne Watson dismissed the report in a statement to news outlets on Feb. 8 as “utterly false and complete fiction.”

Hersh, a former reporter with The New York Times and The New Yorker magazine who first gained prominence in 1969 for his reporting on the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War, published the report, which was based on anonymous sources, on his Substack page titled “How America Took Out The Nord Stream Pipeline.”

In late September last year, two substantial undersea explosions caused extensive damage to Nord Streams 1 and 2, jointly operated with Germany. The Nord Stream 1 pipeline was the primary source of Russian gas to Europe until late August 2022, when Moscow’s state-owned energy company Gazprom, which operates the project, shut off the gas.

Nord Stream
A gas leak from Nord Stream 1 in the Swedish economic zone in the Baltic Sea in this picture taken from a Swedish Coast Guard aircraft on Sept. 28, 2022. (Swedish Coast Guard/Handout via TT News Agency/via Reuters)
Gas leak at Nord Stream 2 as seen from the Danish F-16 interceptor on Bornholm
A gas leak from the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, as seen from the Danish F-16 interceptor in Bornholm, Denmark, on Sept. 27, 2022. (Danish Defence Command/Forsvaret Ritzau Scanpix/via Reuters)

During Wednesday’s briefing, Kirby was asked for an update on the investigation, which has been ongoing for six months. However, Kirby did not provide any progress, saying, “work is still ongoing.”

Earlier this month, Kirby said that Germany, Sweden, and Denmark are investigating the causes of the leaks. When asked  if there had been any updates, he said, “I’m just not going to get ahead of that investigative work.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, meanwhile, was asked to respond to a comment from Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on the Nord Stream subject. During a news conference in Mexico City earlier this week, Lopez Obrador claimed that the United States was involved in the sabotage.

“I wanted to ask you about some comments by the President of Mexico, who’s been very critical of the administration recently. Just today, he … suggested that the United States had blown up the Nord Stream pipeline,” a reporter asked Jean-Pierre at a White House press briefing on Tuesday.

“Clearly, [this is] not true,” she responded. “And so, I’m just going to put that on the record.”

Moscow has repeatedly said the West was behind the explosions that affected the multibillion-dollar infrastructure projects that carried Russian gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea.

Construction of Nord Stream 2, designed to double the amount of gas Russia could send directly to Germany under the sea, was completed in September 2021 but was never put into operation after Berlin shelved certification just days before Moscow sent its troops into Ukraine in February.

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