Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin found it unusual that major outlets in the West uncritically embraced the claim by unnamed US officials that a “pro-Ukrainian group” was responsible for the bombing of Nord Stream natural gas pipelines.
At the press briefing on Wednesday, Wang described the pipelines as “vital cross-border infrastructure projects,” whose destruction had a “serious impact on the global energy market and ecological environment.” China wants “an objective, impartial and professional investigation” into the bombing and those responsible held to account, the sooner the better, he added.
Asked to comment on the so-called “Ukrainian theory,” first put forth by anonymous US officials in the New York Times last week, Wang noted the sudden change of behavior by Western media, after they spent a month ignoring the report by journalist Seymour Hersh that blamed the US and Norway.
“We have noted that some Western media have been mysteriously quiet after Hersh reported that the US was behind the Nord Stream blast. But now these media are unusually simultaneous in making their voice heard. How would the US account for such abnormality? Is there anything hidden behind the scene?” Wang said.
Nord Stream 1 and 2, pipelines built under the Baltic Sea to carry Russian natural gas to Germany and onward to Western Europe, were damaged in a series of explosions in September 2022.
In early February, Hersh published a report detailing how Washington had the pipelines destroyed, describing how US divers planted the explosives and a Norwegian airplane sent the detonation signal. The US government denied all accusations, labeling Hersh’s report “utterly false and complete fiction,” while Russia and China called for an independent and transparent investigation.
The Times report quoted unnamed US officials who suggested that the saboteurs were “most likely Ukrainian or Russian nationals, or some combination of the two,” citing unspecified new intelligence. The anonymous officials insisted no US or British nationals were involved, and that there was no evidence President Vladimir Zelensky or any other Ukrainian official directed the attack, either. Kiev has officially denied any responsibility for the Nord Stream blasts.
When he was shown the Times article during an interview, Hersh laughed and asked “Are they that stupid?” referring to the outlet’s anonymous sources. Nonetheless, the story was dutifully repeated by all major Western outlets.
Russian president Vladimir Putin was likewise unconvinced. During an interview with Rossiya-1 on Tuesday, he dismissed as “complete nonsense” the notion that non-state actors could be behind the complex act of sabotage. The attacks could have only been “carried out by specialists, and supported by the entire power of a state possessing certain technologies,” he said.
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