As a reminder, last month, Pulitzer prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh concluded that the United States blew up the Russia-to-Germany Nord Stream natural gas pipelines last September as part of a covert operation under the guise of the BALTOPS 22 NATO exercise.

Yesterday, four weeks after Hersh’s bombshell report, anonymous US intelligence officials told the NY Times that the saboteurs are likely “pro-Ukraine, possibly government-trained Ukrainian or Russian nationals, or some combination of the two,” but that “no American or British nationals were involved.

In response, Mikhail Podolyak, adviser to the head of President Zelensky’s office said:

Ukraine has nothing to do with the incident in the Baltic Sea and has no information about “pro-Ukrainian subversive groups.”

That should not be a surprise as the report goes on (multiple times) to claim that there’s “no evidence so far of the Ukrainian government’s complicity in the attack on the pipelines.”

As Paul Joseph Watson writes at Summit News, Russia reacted to the New York Times report by dismissing it as a propaganda ploy designed to obfuscate the truth.

“I wonder who allows such leaks, filling the media scene with them?” asked Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

“The answer is: those who do not want to conduct an investigation in the legal field and are going to divert the attention of the audience from the facts in every possible way.”

Andrey Ledenev, Minister Counselor of the Russian Embassy in the United States, said the report served to protect the true culprits behind the attack.

“We have no faith in the “impartiality” of the conclusions of the U.S. intelligence. We perceive anonymous “leaks” as nothing more than an attempt to confuse those who are sincerely trying to get to the bottom of things in this egregious crime. Shift the blame from the statesmen who ordered and coordinated the attacks in the Baltic Sea to some abstract individuals,” Ledenev said.

Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said the New York Times story had “instantly got a ‘green light’ in the local information field” and was intended to distract from the facts presented in Hersh’s piece.

“Obviously, those who have masterminded the [Nord Stream] attack want to divert attention. Obviously, this is a coordinated media hoax campaign,” he asserted.

Further, Peskov said the Kremlin is wondering how US officials can suggest anything regarding the ‘terrorist’ attack on Nord Stream without an investigation, while he suggested it is strange and smells of a “monstrous crime”, according to RIA.

Needless to say, the twitterverse mocked the clear distraction:

However, NakedCapitalism’s Yves Smith points out that even though the US has succeeded in burying the Sy Hersh story depicting Biden and his top foreign policy officials as the instigators of the bombing, it’s gotten traction in Germany.

Moon of Alabama provided a more detailed takedown, relying on the Die Zeit account:

The new claim is that some rather small sailing yacht, which would not even be able to carry the necessary equipment to perform such a deed, was the main instrument in this:

Following joint research by [German main public TV news unit] (ARD’s capital city studio), the ARD political magazine Kontraste, [German public TV] SWR and DIE ZEIT, it was possible to reconstruct to a large extent in the course of the investigation how and when the explosive attack was prepared. According to this, traces lead in the direction of Ukraine. However, investigators have so far found no evidence of who ordered the destruction.

Specifically, according to information from [these news sources], investigators have managed to identify the boat that was presumably used for the secret operation. It is said to be a yacht rented from a company based in Poland, apparently owned by two Ukrainians. The clandestine operation at sea is said to have been carried out by a team of six people, according to the investigation. It is said to have involved five men and one woman. According to the report, the group consisted of a captain, two divers, two diving assistants and a female doctor, who are said to have transported the explosives to the crime scenes and placed them there. The nationality of the perpetrators is apparently unclear. The assassins used professionally forged passports, which are said to have been used, among other things, to rent the boat.According to the investigation, the commando set sail from Rostock on September 6, 2022. The equipment for the clandestine operation was previously transported to the port in a van, it is said. In the further course, the investigators succeeded in locating the boat the following day again in Wieck (Darß) and later at the Danish island Christiansø, northeast of Bornholm, according to the research. The yacht was subsequently returned to the owner in uncleaned condition. On the table in the cabin, the investigators were able to detect traces of explosives, according to the research. According to information from [the mentioned news sources], a Western intelligence service is said to have sent a tip to European partner services as early as in the fall, i.e. shortly after the destruction, according to which a Ukrainian commando was responsible for the destruction. Thereafter, there have allegedly been further intelligence indications suggesting that a pro-Ukrainian group could be responsible.

No. You do not dive down to 80+ meter for an industrial size job, involving the placement of hundreds of pounds of explosives in eight individual charges on very sturdy pipelines, from a sparsely manned sailing boat. Such deep dives require special gases, special breathing equipment, special training, a decompression chamber for emergencies and lots of well trained people to maintain all that stuff.

This is just more chaff thrown up to divert the attention from Seymour Hersh’s revelations that the U.S. military, under order from the White House, carried out the sabotage act.

There is the cynical take that the “blame it on people who like Ukraine” is meant to weaken Ukraine support. That seems unlikely. Pinning blame on mystery operatives with superpowers turns scrutiny as far as possible from government actors, and the big point is to exculpate the US, particularly its top brass. Conveniently, that sort of caper is such a staple of action movies that great swathes of the public have been pre-programmed to believe it.

But the alleged “link” may still blunt Germany sympathy for Ukraine:

But, as Yves Smith notes, before you get your hopes up, until Robert Habeck and Annelina Baerbock get lobotomies, I don’t see German policy changing. They are diehard hawks and still very much in the driver’s seat.

It’s clearly the US hope that this deflection will make the Nord Stream “whodunit” go away.

But Sy Hersh was already promising more stories on this case, and this mini-barrage gives him additional grist. Pass the popcorn.

As Summit News previously highlighted, both China and Hungary have called for a full international investigation into the pipeline attack under the auspices of the United Nations.