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What's Behind US Media's Sudden Recognition That Russia Didn't Blow up Nord Stream Pipelines?

© Photo : Swedish Coast GuardGas leak location on Nord Stream 2
Gas leak location on Nord Stream 2  - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.12.2022
The Washington Post broke on December 21 that even though Western leaders were quick to accuse Moscow of blowing up the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines, after months of investigation no evidence has been found to back the allegation, according to 23 diplomatic and intelligence officials in nine Western countries.
"The recent disclosure by The Washington Post that there is no evidence Russia is behind the Nord Stream pipeline blasts is yet another example of the flimsy information war the West is desperately and recklessly waging against Russia, but at the same time losing," Scott Bennett, former US Army psychological warfare officer and US State Department counterterrorism analyst, told Sputnik.
"Essentially the West – specifically the United Kingdom and the United States – had been fanatical in their blaming of Russia for the blasts, relying on a group of useful idiot puppets like Senator Marco Rubio (Florida), Mitt Romney, and others who routinely make unsubstantiated claims and emotionally flatulent and incendiary accusations against Russia," the former counterterrorism expert continued.
The newspaper went on by saying that some European officials did not think that Russia was responsible for the explosions; and even those with inside knowledge of the ongoing investigation "don’t conclusively tie Russia to the attack."
For their part, US intelligence analysts have not intercepted anything from the Russian side indicating that Moscow was involved in the incident, according to the media.
On top of that, Moscow had little to gain from destroying pipelines that carried Russian natural gas to Western Europe and generating billions in annual revenue, the media admitted, citing European "skeptics."
So, who is the culprit? Judging from the article, the Europeans believe that the sabotage attack was conducted by "a state-level actor"; still, the list of suspects isn't limited only to states that have manned submarines or deep-sea demolitions expertise.
Furthermore, the newspaper cited Western officials as expressing regret that so many world leaders rushed to blame Moscow without considering other state and non-state actors, "that might have the capability and the motive to conduct the attack."
It is also assumed in the article that it's quite probable that the explosions may never be definitively attributed. Obviously, European officials feel bad about it, lamenting the fact that "whoever did it may get away with it," the newspaper concluded.
Gas leak location on Nord Stream 2  - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.12.2022
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Who is the Culprit & Who Benefits?

Bennet does not agree that it's impossible to attribute blame for the sabotage attack. There are a number of state actors who were clearly interested in cutting Russia's gas supplies to Europe, according to him.
"It is highly unlikely that any communication will be allowed to surface in Europe that identifies the true terrorists that destroyed the pipelines – which most intelligence experts assess was done by the United Kingdom and the United States in order to keep Germany in the American orbit of influence," he said.
Even before the beginning of Russia's special military operation in Ukraine, the US exerted pressure on the EU, urging the Old Continent to stop buying Russian hydrocarbons. Eventually, on February 22, 2022, Berlin froze the Gazprom-led Nord Stream 2 pipeline project with Russia.
After the beginning of the spec op, the US and UK imposed an energy embargo, with the EU following suit. The Western sanctions spree limited Russia's ability to maintain and repair its gas equipment, which led to disruptions of supplies via the Nord Stream pipelines.
Nonetheless, Germany never abandoned the idea of resuming buying gas through both Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 (with a capacity of 110 billion cubic meters, or 3.9 trillion cubic feet) once Russo-Ukrainian tensions reduced. The EU's energy ban against Russia backfired on Germany, which has long benefitted from Russia's natural gas supplies. Before the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, 55% of gas consumed in Germany was imported from Russia

Bennett noted that prior to the winter season, "Germany had been remarking about the need to re-engage with Russia, and even seeking to end the sanctions out of their own self-preservation." He suggested that the CIA and NSA – US federal agencies who constantly monitor the communications of European politicians – "determined that Germany was pulling away and needed to be reminded of their enslavement to the United States." As a result, three out of four pipelines were destroyed on September 26, 2022.

Remarkably, just moments after the sabotage, then-UK Prime Minister Liz Truss allegedly sent a mysterious "It’s done" iPhone message to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The latter's reaction to the attack was also remarkable: the US secretary of state dubbed the incident "a tremendous opportunity" for the EU "to once and for all remove the dependence on Russian energy." It appears that the destruction of the pipelines provided a "tremendous opportunity" for the US as well, since the EU doubled down on buying American liquefied natural gas (LNG) to substitute Russia's hydrocarbon supplies.
Barbed wir secure the entrance of the harbour area where the landfall of the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline located, as the sun rises behind the pipeline facility and the transfer station of the OPAL gas pipeline, the Baltic Sea Pipeline Link, in Lubmin, Germany, Thursday, July 21, 2022. Europe is bracing for the possibility that the key Nord Stream 1 pipeline that brings natural gas from Russia to Germany won't reopen as scheduled after routine maintenance. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber) - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.10.2022
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At the time, a number of American public figures and media pundits, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson, retired US Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor, Columbia Professor Jeffrey Sachs, and Ron Unz, voiced the assumption that Washington could somehow have been involved in the infamous attack.
For instance, Sachs cited several reasons to back his assumption: first, "direct radar evidence that US military helicopters that are normally based in Gdansk were circling over this area"; second, Biden's threat earlier this year that "one way or another, [the US is] going to end Nord Stream"; third, the "remarkable statement" by Blinken.
Meanwhile, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden launched separate investigations into the suspected sabotage, with German media reporting trust issues between the three EU nations. Neither of them, however, engaged with Russia's specialists, under the pretext that Moscow was the "likely culprit" behind the blasts.
Nonetheless, the Russian Ministry of Defense conducted its own investigation into the incident and came to the conclusion that the UK Royal Navy had taken part in the planning and executing the sabotage.
A worker carries out a routine check at a natural gas control centre of Turkey's Petroleum and Pipeline Corporation - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.12.2022
TurkStream Gas Pipeline Working at Full Capacity: Turkish Energy Minister

What's Behind the Explosive Article's Release?

It's still unclear, however, why The Washington Post decided to return to the issue in late December 2022.
"One of the reasons for the release of this article (and others that may follow) is the recognition by the collective West of the obvious defeat of Ukraine by Russia in the conflict," suggested Bennett. "Additionally, the European Union is currently experiencing serious protests and potential revolutionary movements in their own nations in protest to the high cost of energy and the backfire effect of the American sanctions war against Russia which has only ended up harming the European and American economy and consumer."
The former US counter-terrorism specialist believes that European leaders are scrambling to prepare for alternative plans of action when Ukraine ultimately falls.
Another reason, according to Bennett, might also be the recent embarrassment of the European Union over the corruption scandal involving EU officials.
Two weeks ago, Belgian prosecutors charged four people with money laundering, corruption, and participating in a criminal organization in Brussels. It is alleged that a Middle Eastern state actor sought to influence EU policy by bribing European Parliament officials.
"This has helped to define the EU as hypocrites and eroded their credibility and integrity in the eyes of the world, and so their continuing participation in the American-British propaganda of the Nord Stream pipelines being blown up by Russia was essentially defeated and dead," suggested Bennett.
Whatever the real reason might be, it appears that divisions are growing within the Western camp amid a simmering energy crunch and looming recession. Major EU states do not conceal their irritation with Washington's high LNG prices and protectionist Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which are hitting European industries and crippling the economy. For its part, Washington is expressing concerns about the EU's latest carbon border tax and gas price capping mechanism, which may backfire on American producers.

"This admission by Europe that Russia is not responsible for the Nord Stream pipeline may be the first step in Europe departing from the life of economic prostitution it has suffered under the United States, and seeking to return to a relationship with Russia, reminiscent of a returning 'Prodigal Son,'" Bennett concluded.

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