Chinese Propagandists Blame U.S. for Nord Stream Explosions

nord stream explosion
John MacDougall/Getty Images; Danish Defense Command/AP

Chinese state media went absolutely berserk on Wednesday over a U.S. intelligence review that suggested a pro-Ukrainian group damaged the Nord Stream pipelines last year, howling American officials concocted the story to conceal their clear guilt for blowing up the pipelines.

The story that drove China’s propagandists into a foaming rage appeared in the New York Times (NYT) on Wednesday:

U.S. officials said there was much they did not know about the perpetrators and their affiliations. The review of newly collected intelligence suggests they were opponents of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, but does not specify the members of the group, or who directed or paid for the operation.

U.S. officials declined to disclose the nature of the intelligence, how it was obtained or any details of the strength of the evidence it contains. They have said that there are no firm conclusions about it, leaving open the possibility that the operation might have been conducted off the books by a proxy force with connections to the Ukrainian government or its security services.


Officials who have reviewed the intelligence said they believed the saboteurs were most likely Ukrainian or Russian nationals, or some combination of the two. U.S. officials said no American or British nationals were involved.

The alleged, anonymous intelligence officials quoted in the report acknowledged that the Nord Stream explosions have produced many theories, but little definitive evidence so far. Many observers believe the deep-sea demolition operation would have required state sponsorship and highly trained operators, but the U.S. government has not officially classified it as an act of government-directed sabotage.

The NYT added a response to its story from Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who complained that Russia has been “prevented from taking part in the investigations,” and denounced the NYT report as “obviously a coordinated spread of disinformation in the media.”

This was the narrative adopted by Russia’s senior partners in tyranny over in Beijing, which howled that Washington was trying to “absolve itself” of blame and “make a fool of the world” using an “obscure pro-Ukrainian group.”

“There is no pro-Ukraine group with the capability and intention to do so other than the US, some netizens from Chinese and overseas social media platforms commented about the NYT report,” said China’s state-run Global Times. This argument will doubtless seem compelling to people who think random posters on government-controlled social media platforms are unimpeachable experts on every possible subject.

The Global Times naturally quoted Peskov’s dismissal of the report, mixed in with more snippets from anonymous Internet users, plus the usual dubious “Chinese experts,” who asserted the absence of evidence that America blew up the pipelines was conclusive proof that America blew up the pipelines because only Uncle Sam is fiendishly clever enough to pull off such an operation without leaving evidence behind.

The Global Times was very enamored of the report in early March by “U.S. veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh” that claimed American forces destroyed the pipelines. 

The Chinese propagandists amusingly pretended that Hersh’s unverifiable and anonymously-sourced report was suppressed by some dark conspiracy, rather than fading quietly from the spotlight because Hersh could not answer follow-up questions about his reporting or produce reliable sourcing for his assertions.

“Some say Hersh’s report cites anonymous sources and lacks sufficient evidence, therefore, the U.S. and Western media dare not to follow up. This is untenable and they think too highly of the U.S. and Western media,” the Global Times ranted, hilariously foreshadowing its very own reaction to the later New York Times report that suggested a pro-Ukrainian group might have been responsible.

Hersh, for the record, told Russian state media he would not venture an opinion on the NYT report that offered such different conclusions than his own story.

“I don’t want to get into it. You should decide for yourself. It’s up to you,” Hersh said when contacted by Russia’s Tass news service.

On Wednesday, China’s state Xinhua news service finally found someone more authoritative than nameless Weibo trolls to question the NYT report:

“It is a demanding operation to get down and dive at that depth and place so much explosive, so it would be a bit ridiculous to me if someone did it from a rented yacht,” Danish news agency Ritzau quoted Anders Puck Nielsen from the Defense Academy as saying.

According to Nielsen, the latest theory is a timely and “reasonable solution” for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

“If you look at it politically, it suits the USA, NATO and Ukraine very well if you can point to a non-state actor as some kind of terrorist organization or saboteurs. It takes the focus away from themselves and Russia,” Nielsen told Ritzau.

That seems like a rather thin argument, because “rented yachts” can be quite spacious and modern undersea operations require less bulky equipment than in the past.

German and Danish police are, in fact, searching for a “specific boat” that was large and well-equipped enough to support the hypothesized six-man team that could have sabotaged the pipeline. However the search turns out, Germany’s version of the FBI clearly does not consider it “ridiculous” for such a vessel to have supported the Nord Stream operation.

“The German investigators believe that more than one team could have been involved, according to the summary. This is because it would have been difficult for six people on one boat to have planted all the explosives that damaged three Nord Stream pipes,” the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Thursday. 

“While the rented yacht was capable of carrying the necessary amount of explosives, it would be difficult – though not impossible – for a small crew to place them on all the sites quickly using only basic equipment, the investigators concluded,” the WSJ added.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.