Now we know who did it.
A Russian underwater operations vessel, SS-750, was photographed while operating close to the Nord Stream pipelines four days before explosions tore them apart last September. As seen above, she carries an AS-26 Priz rescue submarine equipped with “arms” that can lift up to 110 lbs (50 kg), more than enough to transport demolition explosives.
As explained by OSINT analyst Oliver Alexander during March, open sources reveal that at least six Russian ships were involved in whatever the SS-750 was doing out on the Baltic Sea. During the operation, based out of Kaliningrad, various vessels turned off their transponders in a failed effort to be sneaky. Their course kept them away from shore radars.
Unfortunately, no one had told the captain of the tugboat that pushed SS-750 out of port to turn off his automated identification system (AIS) until they were in Polish waters. This appears to be how NATO members understood something was happening.
According to the Danish Navy, a patrol boat found the Russian flotilla off the island of Bornholm and took 26 pictures. The Norwegian Defense Command has confirmed the story.
Joakim von Braun has worked for both the civilian and military Swedish intelligence services and has written textbooks on the Russian intelligence services and Russian military underwater activities.
He links the new information that the Danish defense has observed the SS-750 in the area east of Bornholm, together with the previous rumors about the six Russian naval vessels:
"This indicates that much of the information that has come to light earlier is correct. The group of six vessels mentioned is a group assembled for exactly this type of operation. It is very likely that these vessels were involved in the sabotage operation,' says Joakim von Braun.
Alexander, who located the SS-750 on satellite imagery taken during the time when its transponder was off, says that the flotilla included “the rescue tugs ‘SB-123’ and ‘Alexander Frolov’. Each of them have cargo cranes on deck that would be capable of lowering hundreds of kilograms of heavy explosive devices or mines into the water.”
It is not hard to see why Vladimir Putin would destroy the pipelines. He wanted an “energy war against the west” over the winter. Simply turning off the flow of gas through the pipelines would be a breach of contract with Germany, unlike the “force majeure” of a very mysteeeeerious explosion.
Headlines pointing at Ukraine, or some independent group of Ukrainians, based on flimsy evidence, now suggest a programmatic Kremlin effort to set up a “false flag” may have taken place alongside the secretive demolition.
The raving fantasy story presented by former journalist-turned-Russia Today sycophant Seymour Hersh, in which the United States and at least three allied nations colluded to destroy the pipelines because reasons, can be dismissed as a fabrication.
Consistent with Kremlin practice, this would be an example of multiple false narratives laundered through different channels to confuse and distract the targets of propaganda. Rather than contest what is true, the objective is to destroy the very possibility of any shared truth at all by encouraging the audience to each choose their own truths.
Of course, I have maintained all along that the Russians probably used a series of “pig bombs” to destroy the pipelines. Not being an expert in underwater demolitions, nor able to access nonpublic forensic data, I was betting on this explanation because it is way, way easier than what Russia seems to have done, here.
To recap: a pipeline cleaning pig is usually made of foam or a similar substance wrapped in studded leather. It would be all too easy to put a bomb in one and then send it through a pipeline to explode.
Such an operation would only need a tiny number of people, whereas the whole Baltic Sea Fleet appears to have been required to conduct this opera. Put simply, I gave Putin too much credit, imagining him to be efficient in his nefarious designs. Instead, he got fancy and added too much complexity, so that his machinations have been exposed.
As I pointed out right after Hersh published his story, the operation that he described would not have been able to go unnoticed. Open source analysts scoured satellite and navigational data for anything that might corroborate Hersh and found absolutely nothing.
To date, SS-750 is the only vessel with any diving operations capability that anyone has confirmed was anywhere near the explosion sites during the days preceeding the demolition. She would not have been used at all if Putin had not been so determined to put the blame somewhere else. We knew he was slipping, but not that he was this sloppy.
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Narrator: Putin is this sloppy.