As Bakhmut Falls, US May Turn From Ukraine, Starting With Pipeline Story

If the Donbass city of Bakhmut falls to the Russians the U.S. may need to save face in order to reverse course in Ukraine, writes Joe Lauria.

Biden and Zelensky in November 2021. (President of Ukraine/Wikimedia Commons)

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

On its face, The New York Times article yesterday, “Intelligence Suggests Pro-Ukrainian Group Sabotaged Pipelines, U.S. Officials Say,” appears intended to exonerate both the U.S. and Ukrainian governments from any involvement in the destruction last September of the Nord Stream gas pipelines between Russia and Germany.  

The thrust of the Times article is that Ukrainians unaffiliated with the Kiev government were the ones who did it, according to the newspapers often cited, unnamed “U.S. officials.” 

But a closer examination of the piece reveals layers of nuance that do not dismiss that the Ukrainian government may have had something to do with the sabotage after all. 

The story quotes anonymous European officials who say a state had to be involved in the sophisticated underwater operation.  The Times goes out of it way to say more than once that that state was not the United States.  And while the second paragraph of the story says categorically that the state is not Ukraine either, the article then leaves the door open to possible Ukrainian government involvement:

“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. [Emphasis mine.]

The Times then makes clear what the consequences would be for the pro-Ukraine “coalition” that Washington has built in the combined West if there was Ukrainian government involvement.

“Officials said there were still enormous gaps in what U.S. spy agencies and their European partners knew about what transpired. But officials said it might constitute the first significant lead to emerge from several closely guarded investigations, the conclusions of which could have profound implications for the coalition supporting Ukraine.

Any suggestion of Ukrainian involvement, whether direct or indirect, could upset the delicate relationship between Ukraine and Germany, souring support among a German public that has swallowed high energy prices in the name of solidarity.”

The Times further develops the theme that involvement by the Ukrainian government could destroy the international support for Kiev the United States has built, as well as the immense public backing for Ukraine that the U.S.-led information war has developed.

The Washington Post, which yesterday ran a similar story, reported that the Ukrainian government denied any involvement in the attack. “Ukraine absolutely did not participate in the attack on Nord Stream 2,” said Mykhailo Podolyak, the top adviser to Zelensky, questioning why his country would conduct an operation that “destabilizes the region and will divert attention from the war, which is categorically not beneficial to us.”

Distancing Begins

The newspaper here is allowing U.S. officials to begin distancing the U.S. from Ukraine, claiming Washington has limited influence on Kiev, despite years of evidence to the contrary. The piece appears to be preparing the Western public for an abrupt about face in Ukraine because of a litany of Ukrainian operations the U.S. says it opposed.  It is worth quoting the Times at length here:

“Any findings that put blame on Kyiv or Ukrainian proxies could prompt a backlash in Europe and make it harder for the West to maintain a united front in support of Ukraine.

U.S. officials and intelligence agencies acknowledge that they have limited visibility into Ukrainian decision-making.

Despite Ukraine’s deep dependence on the United States for military, intelligence and diplomatic support, Ukrainian officials are not always transparent with their American counterparts about their military operations, especially those against Russian targets behind enemy lines. Those operations have frustrated U.S. officials, who believe that they have not measurably improved Ukraine’s position on the battlefield, but have risked alienating European allies and widening the war.

The operations that have unnerved the United States included a strike in early August on Russia’s Saki Air Base on the western coast of Crimea, a truck bombing in October that destroyed part of the Kerch Strait Bridge, which links Russia to Crimea, and drone strikes in December aimed at Russian military bases in Ryazan and Engels, about 300 miles beyond the Ukrainian border.

But there have been other acts of sabotage and violence of more ambiguous provenance that U.S. intelligence agencies have had a harder time attributing to Ukrainian security services.

One of those was a car bomb near Moscow in August that killed Daria Dugina, the daughter of a prominent Russian nationalist.

Kyiv denied any involvement but U.S. intelligence agencies eventually came to believe that the killing was authorized by what officials called “elements” of the Ukrainian government. In response to the finding, the Biden administration privately rebuked the Ukrainians and warned them against taking similar actions.

The explosions that ruptured the Nord Stream pipelines took place five weeks after Ms. Dugina’s killing. After the Nord Stream operation, there was hushed speculation — and worry — in Washington that parts of the Ukrainian government might have been involved in that operation as well.

Of course all this is not to say that the United States did not conduct the Nord Stream sabotage just as Seymour Hersh has reported and yet still cynically blames Ukraine. (Hersh ridiculed the Times story in an email to Consortium News, which sought his comment.)

In directing attention towards the Ukrainian government’s possible culpability, U.S. intelligence gets a twofer: it deflects blame from the U.S. and prepares the public for the United States to justify abandoning Ukraine after all the U.S. has invested in its adventure to weaken Russia and topple its government through an economic, information, and proxy war, all of which have failed

A consensus is forming among Western leaders that the war against Russia in Ukraine is lost. Thus Washington would have to save face to pull off such a reversal of policy. Insinuating that Ukraine blew up the pipelines of its ally Germany could help the U.S. climb down from its strident position in support of Ukraine.

German Media Also Blames Ukraine on Same Day

Scholz and Biden pose for photos in Oval Office last Friday before private one hour meeting without aides. (White House)

On the same day of The New York Times story yesterday, a joint investigation by a major German newspaper, Die Zeit, and the ARD broadcast network, also reported that the pipeline attack was linked to Ukraine.  Die Zeit reports, according to a machine translation:

“The German investigative authorities have apparently made a breakthrough in solving the attack on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines. After joint research by the ARD capital studio, the ARD political magazine Kontraste, SWR and ZEIT, it was possible to largely reconstruct how and when the explosive attack was prepared in the course of the investigation. Accordingly, traces lead in the direction of Ukraine.” 

Just like the Times report, Die Zeit also hedges its reporting, saying that “investigators have not yet found any evidence as to who ordered the destruction.” It might not be credible to immediately blame Ukraine. The sources for these articles may be employing a tactic to gradually prepare the public for more definitive blame later.  Die Zeit does provide a level of detail missing from the Times report, however.  The investigation

“managed to identify the boat that was allegedly used for the secret operation. It is said to be a yacht rented from a company based in Poland, apparently owned by two Ukrainians. According to the investigation, the secret operation at sea was carried out by a team of six people. It is said to have been five men and one woman. Accordingly, the group consisted of a captain, two divers, two diving assistants and a 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 culprits used professionally forged passports, which are said to have been used, among other things, to rent the boat.”

That both articles appeared on the same day in major U.S. and German publications (including The Washington Post) might indicate a degree of coordination between U.S. and German intelligence. On Friday, just four days before the articles appeared, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz made an unusual trip from Berlin to Washington, where he immediately went to the White House for a meeting with President Joe Biden. 

No aides were present in the Oval Office with the two men. The meeting lasted just over an hour.  There was no press conference afterward and Scholz did not allow press on his plane. He returned to the airport after the meeting to fly back to Berlin. Clearly the two men did not want to discuss a sensitive matter over the phone or in a video-link. 

Western Leaders Already Say Ukraine Can’t Win 

The Times was fed this piece from U.S. intelligence as stories continue to be leaked showing Western leaders do not believe Ukraine can win the war, despite their public pronouncements, and that Kiev must cut its losses and seek a settlement with Russia. The Wall Street Journal reported 11 days ago: 

“The public rhetoric masks deepening private doubts among politicians in the U.K., France and Germany that Ukraine will be able to expel the Russians from eastern Ukraine and Crimea, which Russia has controlled since 2014, and a belief that the West can only help sustain the war effort for so long, especially if the conflict settles into a stalemate, officials from the three countries say.

‘We keep repeating that Russia mustn’t win, but what does that mean? If the war goes on for long enough with this intensity, Ukraine’s losses will become unbearable,’ a senior French official said. ‘And no one believes they will be able to retrieve Crimea.’

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told Zelensky at an Élysée Palace dinner last month that he must consider peace talks with Moscow, the Journal reported.

According to its source, the newspaper quoted Macron as telling Zelensky that “even mortal enemies like France and Germany had to make peace after World War II.”

Macron told Zelensky “he had been a great war leader, but that he would eventually have to shift into political statesmanship and make difficult decisions,” the newspaper reported.

Bakhmut: a Turning Point

A building burns in Bakhmut City, Sept. 15, 2022. (Ministry of Defense of Ukraine)

A major turning point in the war that would force a huge decision for Washington may come if Russia can complete its military takeover of Bakhmut. 

The battle for the city in Donbass has been raging since last summer and has intensified in the past weeks.  Russia has nearly encircled the entire city trapping an estimated 10,000 Ukrainian troops inside. Ukraine had repeatedly played down the importance of Bakhmut, but nevertheless has continually sent in droves of soldiers to their death. Bakhmut is an important hub in Ukraine’s defense of Donbass. 

In an interview with CNN yesterday, Zelensky at last admitted Bakhmut’s vital importance to Ukraine. “We understand that after Bakhmut they could go further. They could go to Kramatorsk, they could go to Sloviansk, it would be open road for the Russians after Bakhmut to other towns in Ukraine, in the Donetsk direction,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “That’s why our guys are standing there.” 

The fall of Bakhmut to Russia would be a major humiliation for Zelensky and Ukraine, as well as for the United States and Europe.  The U.S. would have a major choice to make:  continue to escalate the war with the danger that it could lead to a NATO-Russia confrontation that could go nuclear, or press Ukraine to absorb its losses and seek a settlement. 

Russia however would then be in a position to dictate terms:  possibly recognition of four eastern Ukrainian oblasts as part of Russia after referendums there voted to join the Russian Federation; Ukraine agreeing to be a neutral nation that will not join NATO; demilitarization of Ukraine and disbanding of neo-nazi units. 

Portraying Ukraine as an unworthy partner that blew up German pipelines might help minimize the humiliation to the West if this were to happen.  Then again neoconservatives in Washington and in European capitals might win out in the battle with realists and continue pressing the war, though the realists at this stage seem to have the upper hand.

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette and The Star of Johannesburg. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, a financial reporter for Bloomberg News and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe  


110 comments for “As Bakhmut Falls, US May Turn From Ukraine, Starting With Pipeline Story

  1. Mike
    March 10, 2023 at 18:49

    Long before the conflict expanded on 24 Feb 2022, this was a war of propaganda, distortion and misinformation not to mention the now admitted deliberate trickery over the Minsk Agreement whereby Germany, France and USA talked of compromise but did nothing other than load up Ukraine with weaponry and train its military. Even as Lavrov hoped for a positive outcome to his last ditch discussion with Blinken in Geneva, American aircraft were in the air to Kiev with the latest batches – such treachery.
    The Russians knew it could be a trap but they still tried to reach an agreement. The American Administration, not the people, could not lose – Russia would retreat and allow Donbass to be overrun (with all its conequences) or resist and face all its consequences.

  2. Robert Emmett
    March 10, 2023 at 12:18

    Joe L’s highlighting of hints dropped in MSM accounts of Nord Stream sabotage that could possibly indicate rationales for the U.S. to bug out of Ukraine are intriguing. I’m not quite sure how their subsequent stories to explain such an about face would not cause hundreds of thousands of heads to explode with the discontinuity. But, after all, they pretty much managed it with Russiagate. A key audience is mostly mid to upscale, liberal, don’t-rock-the-boaters who believe implicitly that the NYT is gospel, which is kind of strange when you consider those were second hand stories related to scribes. The people in that demographic whom I know have never even heard of Consortium News.

    But even if the u>S. were to leave Ukraine, it would still leave in place what Russia deems as existential threats, including anti-missile defense batteries in Poland & Romania that could readily be turned into offensive systems targeting Russia; even possible inclusion some day of Ukraine in NATO?

    Just to note: Aaron Mate pretty well differentiates between the MSM stories using unnamed source(s) about the Nord Stream sabotage and Sy Hersh’s story with his unnamed source. It’s on his substack page, also posted on

  3. JohnO
    March 10, 2023 at 08:39

    After backing a fascist minority in Ukraine to assume control and chase the democratically elected administration, then funneling hundreds of millions of dollars worth of weaponry into the fascist-led Ukrainian government, then broadcasting to the world, particularly to the American public, that the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming, then “promising” that Russia cannot win, and American support will be there for the illegitimate Ukrainian “regime as long as necessary,”…and now this, just in from the New York Times. Was there ever any question that the U.S. media has been a complicit beacon of misinformation in service to neocons lusting after the title of global hegemon?

  4. TRogers
    March 9, 2023 at 19:03

    How many more insane wars are we going to let these Neocons drag us into in their arrogant, mad quest to rule the world?

  5. Red Star
    March 9, 2023 at 16:43

    According to Al-Mayadeen today :

    “Reportedly, the CIA warned the German Federal Intelligence service, BND, about a potential attack that could hit the Nord Stream pipelines months ahead of the attack taking place in September 2022, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

    Reportedly, anonymous intelligence officials told the newspaper that the CIA warned its German counterpart about the blasts in June and July 2022, at most two months before the explosions took place.”

    Sounds like another strand in America’s “its not our fault” defence.

    1. It was Ukraine that did it. Nothing to do with us.

    2. We warned Europe but they let it happen. Not our fault.

    3. (possible) We can no longer continue to work with such unreliable allies so we’re out of there. Its a European war anyway, nothing to do with us.

  6. Stierlitz
    March 9, 2023 at 16:15

    This morning March 9 the inhabitants of two German Länder were blasted out of their beds by a government nuclear alert over their mobile phones. Much like the alert that locked down the country, the message was basicvaslly directing the population to the nuclear bomb shelters. It turns out that they are the two regions filled with US bases including Ramstein. Curiously the capital city Berlin was not subjected to this exercice.

  7. March 9, 2023 at 15:59

    How do you “disband” neo-Nazi units?

      March 9, 2023 at 17:22

      Kick all members of these units out of the military and close these units down; prosecute those for which there is evidence for war crimes and crimes against humanity; make it illegal for those who are not jailed to own a weapon; ban the display of nazi symbols; take down all monuments to Stepan Bandera and other Ukrainian fascists; ban torchlight marches in his honor.

  8. Em
    March 9, 2023 at 14:12

    No mention in the article of what the US’s ultimate long-term objective is in instigating this preliminary proxy war, on Ukrainian territory, against Russia.

    The US has no intention of “reversing course” in its broader foreign policy objective of maintaining its unilateral global hegemony.

    Russia has, for many years now, correctly seen the US led/NATO/West as an existential threat to its independent territorial sovereignty.

    The US., which in the past has always self-servingly abused the proverbial idiom: the pot calling the kettle black, to serve its own ends; has finally begun to see the threat to its own unipolar hegemony, as existential, which in reality it is, thankfully.

    But a belligerent US. — always opposing other nations which don’t interpret the world as it does, is now confronting a comparably nuclear armed nation which, once and for all, correctly recognizes its direct aggression.
    The US is nowadays once again attempting to adapt the reverse of the fore cited idiom to its advantage; that it too is facing an existential threat.

    This is the real fuse, which has to be defused, if humanity is to survive!
    Existential against existential = annihilation of human existence..

      March 9, 2023 at 17:41

      The article does not say that the “US has no intention of ‘reversing course’ in its broader foreign policy objective of maintaining its unilateral global hegemony.” US global intentions are a given but they have had to reverse course numerous times in individual instances, Vietnam, Afghanistan, etc.

      • Em
        March 10, 2023 at 14:59

        Russia today is NOT Vietnam in the fifties, nor is it Afghanistan in the decade, between 1979 & ’89 whent Soviet Russia was engaged in conflict there.
        And… what too many Americans today still don’t seem to grasp is that Russia today is no longer what the Soviet Union was back then; neither economically, but especially militarily.

    • IJ Scambling
      March 9, 2023 at 20:51

      The article does not need to say the obvious on long-range neocon goals. The problem is the short range, given the mania of the people directly pushing the war. An optimistic pausing might be possible strategically for these “leaders,” causing a restructuring and time delay to let the embarrassment of the pipeline story pass along, but the emotionally invested Biden, particularly, is a wavering weed on what might be decided. (Nuland currently pushing ahead on attacking Crimea for example.) He’s also vulnerable regarding his role with Hunter back to 2014 and whatever is involved in that. Recall he had a prosecutor removed from investigating Burisma Holdings, with Hunter at 50,000+ a month salary, by threatening to cancel a 1 billion military assistance program, and then crowed about it afterwards.

  9. D.H.Fabian
    March 9, 2023 at 14:10

    “Falls,” or is liberated? Most people of Bakhmut are ethnic Russian. (Zelensky is not.) The region had voted (referendum) to align with Russia, not the West. Zelensky has been waging his war against the people of eastern Ukraine.

  10. March 9, 2023 at 13:24

    This will be an off-ramp for them.

    Another off-ramp will be: The plucky Ukrainians, with our unwavering support, have prevented Russia from swallowing up all Ukraine and then the rest of the free world, as was their plan. So now if Ukraine must give up a bit of territory at the negotiating table, it’s not really so important – WE WON!

  11. Rudy Haugeneder
    March 9, 2023 at 01:24

    This regional and historically typical European border war continues to expand in financial and military equipment terms where Nato, led by the Americans, is starting to bleed considerably worse than the Russians who, believe it or not, can withstand the loss of tens of thousands of troops and still be as strong as they have been in four decades, not including their nuclear weaponry. This border war may yet soon envelope all of Christian Europe, destroying the European Union which will then have to depend China for the goods and services it needs, largely because America is on the cusp of entering a major economic recession which will further shrivel its ability to manufacture the consumer goods it and Europe need and would create a huge deflationary (not inflationary) cycle which will further destroy business, industry, and public confidence and result unstoppable social unrest, especially after the stock markets crash and the wealth many people believe they have disappears thereby leaving them virtually broke and with huge real estate mortgages left unpaid, all of which when combined will either result in a quick European border war peace or final march to global conflagration.

    March 8, 2023 at 21:53

    There is much misleading BS being proposed claiming to know who destroyed the Russian oil pipelines. It has already been recognised that the culprits were those Nations, headed by the U.K.,that were known to be “exercising war games”, immediately adjacent to the site where the pipelines were damaged. It is also known that these “exercises and war games” included the use of submersible attack vehicles and weapons. They planted the explosives then detonated them remotely a few days later. All these other stories are intended to remove the focus on the real culprits. You can write this on your wall and also “Take it to the Bank”.

    • D.H.Fabian
      March 9, 2023 at 14:20

      This information sheds some light. We (public) don’t actually know who to blame. We can state that the US had the most to gain. While the US is the world’s leading exporter of LNG, it had a small EU market, as they’ve relied on less costly natural gas via the Russian pipeline. If “something” should happen to the pipeline, it opens up the market for US LNG. I had missed the reporting about the UK “war exercises” near the point of damage on the pipeline.

    • Randal Marlin
      March 9, 2023 at 14:45

      According to Seymour Hersh, the war games were in June, 2022, and the remote detonations took place September 26, 2022. He goes to great lengths to describe how the explosives were put in place during the war games, and why the delay was considered necessary. He also goes into how the detonations were still expected to work despite the time delay. Have you reasons for challenging this account? Were there war games in September, for example?

  13. DMCP
    March 8, 2023 at 21:18

    Kudos to Mr. Lauria for this insightful analysis. It is certainly interesting to see the developing possibility for a shift in the US government’s attitude toward the Ukraine war. It suggests to me that the new story is being pushed by realists are gaining enough traction to publicly oppose the militant neoconservatives in the administration. Still, I think, the neoconservatives will double down and I don’t see a negotiated peace in the near future. But it’s a step in the right direction, if Mr. Lauria’s interpretation is correct, as I think it is.

  14. Eric
    March 8, 2023 at 21:00

    Surely shifting responsibility to so-called Ukrainian proxies is a limited hang-out, Joe. And we know who’s left hanging: the Ukrainian people — and maybe Zelensky’s regime, if you’re right about the West near to throwing up its hands.

    AFAIK, Ukraine is not known for its expertise in deep underwater military dives in the Baltic. As commenters Ed M. and KiwiZantic (among others) point out, the idea that a half-dozen people in a rented boat from Poland could pull it off — and without Germany or and Scandinavian countries knowing — is far-fetched.

    The one detail in your story that gave me pause was from Die Zeit: “The nationality of the perpetrators is apparently unclear. The culprits used professionally forged passports, which are said to have been used, among other things, to rent the boat.”

    Assassins and saboteurs using forged passports is a specialty of the Mossad; Israel may also have some expertise in gas pipelines, given its appropriation of undersea gas fields off Gaza’s coast.

    But the primary obvious culprit is still Uncle Sam, of course.

  15. March 8, 2023 at 20:21

    ———- Original Message ———-
    From: Bill WOLFE
    To: “[email protected]
    Date: 04/25/2022 4:35 PM
    Subject: US Domestic political side of Ukraine

    Joe – Biden realized his presidency has failed – for sure by late 2020.

    To deflect from failed presidency, Biden set longstanding US military aid plans in motion

    Biden’s political objectives:

    a) salvage presidency – war presidency

    b) buffer ’22 mid term wipeout in Congress

    c) frame “Putin puppets” for ’24 Trump narrative

    d) consolidate support of deep state and MIC funders – military contractors

    Hillary Clinton got the ball rolling to avoid critical reflection on Dem. policies.

    This appears to be the fruit of her Russia-gate demonization of Putin and Russia.

    The Dems will double down on the Russia-gate framing – it’s all Biden and Dems have.

    They will tag anti-war journalism as “conspiracy theory”.

    They will tag war opponents at “Putin’s puppets”.

    According to Scott Ritter’s military analysis, the facts on the ground soon will no longer support the Biden “Ukraine is winning” narrative.

    At some point, the Biden story will collapse. Regardless, it seems pretty clear that Biden will not let Ukraine cut a deal with the Russians that creates the impression that Russia “won”.

    It will be very interesting to see how the US press corps extricates themselves from this propaganda operation, in light of those facts on the ground.

    While Blinken sees war going until the end of the year, you can be certain that it will not end before the mid-terms no matter what the facts on the ground are.

    Dems likely will continue to stir this pot into the ’24 Presidential cycle.


  16. TRogers
    March 8, 2023 at 20:02

    My estimate – The Neocons will try to send American troops to Ukraine, like they did into Iraq and Afghanistan. Their agenda is not what’s good for Americans.

    Joe Lauria gave a great analysis of the Ukraine conflict on Crosstalk last night. Comprehensive yet concise, hitting all the key points with clarity. Masterful reporting.
    War on Russia

  17. Tony
    March 8, 2023 at 19:54

    Who believes the NYT? It is more realistic to believe that this article was ordered by The Times’ jefes in the Biden Administration. Who else but the U.S would have the sophistication to terminate the pipeline, which Biden specifically promised he would do? Ockham’s Razor certainly applies here.

  18. March 8, 2023 at 18:14

    Another plausible exit strategy would be to start a war with China.

    The Biden, Blinken, Nuland, Austin (Raytheon) Team are desperate to save face and they can never admit error (especially with Republicans holding the House oversight and in the runup to ’24 election – old Joe would never pull an LBJ. Joe will only go via a casket or the 25th A).

    Afghanistan retreat and regroup fo Ukraine proxy war may be the model here.

    • Cerena
      March 10, 2023 at 07:46

      Bringing “democracy on the march” to Ukraine, beginning with the Nuland-Kagan’s putsch in 2014, was a cold-blooded genocidal operation that brought together Straussians (hxxps:// and followers of Stepan Bandera (self-proclaimed Ukrainian Nazis). Nothing to be proud of.

  19. doug home
    March 8, 2023 at 18:13

    The people who meet every morning on the 7th floor of a certain building in Langley, Virginia have been very busy hatching ever more implausible stories for the publishers at NYT, the Post and the rest of the Pentagon-compliant media to push.

    It is worth noting that Sy Hersh’s far more plausible claim on titled “How America took out the Nord Stream Pipeline.” that the US did it (technological difficulties, site access and post explosion “activities”), rated zero mentions on the same papers. Not one of the US’s “journals of record”; the New York Times, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, carried a single article devoted to his story. This silence, more than anything else, serves as a confirmation of the fundamental correctness of Hersh’s assertion.

    The latest Langley news agency offering about 5 (4 men and a woman) Ukrainians, who may or may not be working for the Ukrainian state, who sailed out of a German port on a hired Polish yacht to the highly patrolled waters above the Bornholm site; does nothing to dispel this.

    btw according to a June 12th NATO article; the U.S. Sixth Fleet Task Force 68 conducted exercises to demonstrate unmanned Underwater Vehicle effectiveness in operational scenarios off the coast of Bornholm, Denmark during an earlier NATO exercise. NavyMil reported that “Scientists from five nations (not incliding the Ukrainian “navy”) brought the latest advancements in Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) mine hunting technology to the Baltic Sea to demonstrate the vehicle’s effectiveness in operational scenarios.”

    btw2 On the 26 September the Geological Survey of Denmark said that a seismometer on Bornholm showed two spikes (seventeen hours apart) indicating two explosions in the area.

  20. March 8, 2023 at 18:04


    “Any suggestion of Ukrainian involvement, whether direct or indirect, could upset the delicate relationship between Ukraine and Germany, souring support among a German public that has swallowed high energy prices in the name of solidarity.”

    That is remarkable perverse propaganda, because it was the US objective in sabotaging the pipelines to prevent the German people from politically demanding resumption of Russian gas, which not only would contradict US economic sanctions but also fracture the “coalition”. Blowing up the pipeline took that option off the table.

  21. bardamu
    March 8, 2023 at 18:01

    The Times has taken up Maxwell Smart’s “Would you believe . . . ” stories.

  22. Michael Chebo
    March 8, 2023 at 17:09

    Wow thanks. Fascinating good work. This is exactly what I come for

  23. KiwiAntz
    March 8, 2023 at 17:08

    This alternative Cover Story cooked up by US Intelligence & the Biden WhiteHouse saying that six people on s sailboat, dived down 80 meters with 100kgs of explosives, attached to the pioes in eight strategic places then remote detonated with sonar buoys, all under the watch of NATO Forces Sea while exercises were going on is so absurd, laughable & preposterous that it defies belief & this insane Story is getting ridiculed & lampooned around the Globe! This lie ontop off a the lie to deny blowing up the Pipelines in the first place is backfiring bigtime, the American Govt is looking like complete Morons & the World is laughing at you & also the utter emasculation of the Vassal state, Germany & its quizzling, treasonous Leader Scholz! I don’t agree with Joe that America is getting ready to bail on Ukraine by using this ridiculous Cover story as the excuse, Zelensky & others have too much dirt on Joe Biden & the corrupt Biden crime Family with Hunter, that they can’t extricate themselves from Ukraine, the US Neocons have trapped themselves in this conflict, its all or nothing, the humiliation of America’s defeat in full view of the World will far surpass the Afghanistan withdrawal defeat, this blow to US & its prestige signals the end of American Global power, influence & Hegemony, ITS OVER for the US Empire!

    • Anon
      March 8, 2023 at 21:42

      This commenter disagrees with Scholz as quizzling… rather as left leaning election trends coalitioning (sp?) Greens into (different from US Duop) power share.
      Caught in the middle between US Petro$ aggression and his electors’ protests… as any responsible leader should, eventually sides with… His Side…!
      BTW tnx CN, Joe for such exclusive and complete updates!

    • Barbara
      March 9, 2023 at 10:17

      American Govt is looking like complete Morons —– look is president. The government is reflecting who the leaders are.

    • Blessthebeasts
      March 9, 2023 at 10:34

      I think you’re right and I fervently hope you are.

    • March 10, 2023 at 07:13

      to quizzle? I keep seeing this usage more and more frequently. Vidkun Quisling was a Norwegian Nazi; the word “quisling” refers to a particularly odious sort of traitor. It is a noun not a verb. Although, “to quizzle” has a sort of “je ne sais quoi” that might lead us into the realm of fantastic neologisms that stick.

  24. Mark Thomason
    March 8, 2023 at 16:56

    “Any findings that put blame on Kyiv or Ukrainian proxies could prompt a backlash in Europe and make it harder for the West to maintain a united front in support of Ukraine.”

    Right, and so just think what it will mean Europe is forced to admit that the US did it. NATO is at risk, and certainly the US position dominating Germany.

    • Occupy on!
      March 9, 2023 at 10:53

      Absolutely, and those suggested “Ukrainian proxies” are the Ultra-right elements (including the Right Sektor and neo-Nazi Azovs permeating Ukraine’s Security services – all spawned from Ukrainian oligarchs) the US has nurtured at least since 2013.

  25. March 8, 2023 at 15:18

    Thanks Joe, your analysis matches my thoughts when I first read of the NYT report.
    This rather nicely sums it up:
    ” U.S. intelligence gets a twofer: it deflects blame from the U.S. and prepares the public for the United States to justify abandoning Ukraine after all the U.S. has invested in its adventure to weaken Russia and topple its government through an economic, information, and proxy war, all of which have failed.”

    All along, it looked like the U.S. neocon leadership (centered, I suspect, in the State Department but with distributed assets) had no exit strategy – it had seemed willing to gamble (with risks of nuclear brinksmanship) that it could continue to escalate (via the consumption of 10s of billions of $$ in U.S.-produced weapons) the war long enough to bleed Russia to collapse, and in the process increase its control over its European allies and indeed their economies. The war in Ukraine reflects perfectly the latest strategy of U.S. hegemonic goals; i.e. war by proxy. The 2019 Rand Corp. memorandum recommending it was not just some mere coincidence of thinking by academics- but instead, another blueprint.

    The architects all misjudged on several counts. While they no doubt envisioned that Ukraine would sacrifice much, they perhaps thought that they could, when bolstered by U.S. / NATO weaponry, drag this out much longer than now looks possible. In fact, many independent Western military analysts had predicted that Russia would finish Ukraine much more quickly- perhaps overlooking Russia’s own declared intentions – i.e. to do only what was necessary to remove the Nazis and UAF threats from Donbass and Crimea, to reduce Ukraine’s ability to mount future military threats, and to force Ukraine to implement Minsk and agree to military neutrality.

    It seems that this was a fairly widespread failure of understanding in the West. Even U.S. military leadership had marveled at Russia’s restraint in the early months of the SMO. It’s as if they all assumed Russia would immediately go into “shock and awe” mode such as the U.S. itself would have done (and as it did in its criminal invasion of Iraq). It was only after the steady escalation of attacks against Russia (including the Nord Stream sabotage), and obvious escalation of NATO involvement, that Russia began preparing for a fuller-scale war, and it has begun that in patient, logical and apparently successful fashion, turning the tables on the U.S. by ‘bleeding’ Ukraine’s military and draining it of weaponry faster than it can be replaced.

    It would appear that the Pentagon is now seeing the picture more clearly; realizing both the limitations of patience in the West, growing reluctance of its partners to further risk their economies and political power, and acknowledging that it can’t even supply the weaponry needed – even if there were a sufficiency of Ukrainian (and assorted mercentary) troops left to wield it.

    But back to your statement quoted in the first para. of this comment, Joe, as to the deflection of blame for Nord Stream: While there is no bulletproof proof of any of the claims – not Hersh’s, nor especially those absurdly reported in the NYT – it does seem imperative for the U.S. (and somewhat for the Scholz government) to deflect blame away from the U.S. For, regardless of the disposition of this war, the U.S. can’t afford to have the alienation of a significant part of the German population as well as others in Europe affected not only by the pipeline sabotage but also by U.S.-ordered economic sanctions that are likely in combination to produce continued distress for the citizenry. Scholz would probably be better served politically if he actually stood up to Washington; but his feckless subservience is increasingly evident; and in any case, he is already forever tied to Washington’s bad choices and their fallout… so he is likely to continue ‘standing by his man’.

    • Allan Millard
      March 9, 2023 at 00:56

      Your comment is incisive. One of the most important observations is “perhaps overlooking Russia’s own declared intentions”. I would remove “perhaps” and say that the shaky foundation for all of the anti-Russian propaganda is the claim that Putin has failed in taking Kyiv and that he was/is intent on occupying all of Ukraine. Instead, as Scott Ritter wrote weeks ago, Russia may be well on its way to achieving the stated goals of the SMO by military means since diplomatic means were rejected by Washington.

    • Cerena
      March 10, 2023 at 08:31

      The American tragic-comedy: hxxps:// “He [Leo Strauss] advised them [his students] to build their own dictatorship. Several of the members of this sect have held very high positions in the United States and Israel. One of the characteristics of this group is that they are ready for anything. For example, they wanted to return Iraq to the stone age. This is indeed what they did. For them, all sacrifices are possible, including for themselves, as long as they remain the first…”

      There is an orangery of warmongers, protected by vested interests, who have been shaping the foreign policy of the US. These policies have a strong genocidal character, and they have been bleeding the American economy and destroying the very future of the US. Instead of developing the US’s abundant national resources, the US government has been ‘tuned’ to conduct global looting, plundering, and mass murder to please the main representatives of the “vested interests” — Financial Squid (the City of London/Federal Reserve), war profiteers and supranational mega-corporations of a fascist persuasion, including the dishonorable MIC.
      Following the amoral supremacist doctrine of full-spectrum dominance has generational consequences. Look at the disunited states of America.

  26. Realist
    March 8, 2023 at 14:56

    Whatever cover story that Washington concocts to paper over the actual ugly reality it has created will simply be in keeping with the Rovian Politik it has been practicing since the Bush/Cheney administration first went rogue, confected the pretext for a major war from whole cloth and gratuitously slaughtered upwards of a million people while leaving several times that number homeless and radicalised in Iraq. The protocol was lather, rinse and repeat in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Ukraine. To any intelligent, informed person, these Rovian capers have been as transparent as the tales of the little boy who owns that famous homework-eating pooch. The purpose is to claim plausible deniability by telling whoppers that absolutely no one believes but chooses to swallow rather than face the might of the United States on an even larger and crazier rampage. America’s “power of persuasion” was mostly threat and intimidation since the end of WWII. It has been the sole tool in its “diplomatic” work shop (aka its “intelligence” services”) since the false end of the Cold War in 1990. Rovian persuasion knows only an escalation of threats, as the US federal government has deliberately chosen to be feared by all, including its own citizens, rather than loved, or even respected, by anyone.

    Though Karl Rove was widely acknowledged as the author of such gangster politics based on one specific quote (see below) that he released to the media, its actual enforcement was realised in all its bloody horror by Dick Cheney, America’s only Vice-president to actually run the country in lieu of the dolt elected (by the Supreme Court) to occupy the White House.

    The Rove Doctrine: “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” Keep in mind that such alleged realities do not have to come even close to actual fact, an idea that was taken to the extreme by the most popular movie of the time called “the Matrix.” Rather than a cabal of AI entities hard-wiring a population of somnolent humans, we in the real world have since been kept in line by a never-ending stream of lies and false narratives, which many still call “the Matrix.” Read Caitlin Johnstone’s many essays on the subject in this very blog. According to her, whose claims concur with my observations, most of the history that our Western civilisation believes to be true has been mostly an elaborate ruse to prop up Orwell’s contention that “he who controls the past, controls the future.”

    • vinnieoh
      March 9, 2023 at 12:19

      re: “The Rove Doctrine,” the quote you posted. Some years ago as I was looking further into this statement I thought I read that it had never actually been attributed to Rove; that the reporter/journalist who reported it paraphrased Rove after interviewing him. Whether that is true or not, the statement does encapsulate what Rove was all about. As the Bush Iraq debacle unfolded week after week I repeatedly thought to myself “Well they’ve really stepped on their wang this time and all the BS will be exposed.” And week after week it seemed that all the contingencies, all the possible developments had been gamed out beforehand, and Bush/Rove et. al. had their next gambit ready and waiting to deploy.

  27. Do
    March 8, 2023 at 14:54

    Find who the crime profit…

    Now, full speed ahead. Destination? China!

    • March 10, 2023 at 07:42

      Thank you Joe for this nice analysis. Your analysis of such issues is what makes me enjoy reading your articles and those people like Patrick Lawrence,Diana Johnston,Ritter and other Consortium writers. Thank you once again.

  28. vinnieoh
    March 8, 2023 at 14:25

    “…Then again neoconservatives in Washington and in European capitals might win out in the battle with realists and continue pressing the war, though the realists at this stage seem to have the upper hand.”

    I am not so optimistic in even this guarded glimmer of hope. I’m reminded of Mary Chestnut’s entry in her Civil War writings: “Woe to those that began this war, if they were not in deadly earnest.” While I lay the lion’s share of blame for this disastrous bloodbath on the Biden administration and those which he has surrounded himself, do not forget how Trump’s own party turned on him when he proposed mostly withdrawing the US military presence from Syria. Defeat at this juncture is not an option for those that began it. The stark aggression and assured confidence of the Biden administration in blowing up the pipelines* tells me that for their part there is no turning back. There is no amount of narrative control, spin, or obfuscating ‘realistic reconsideration’ that could cover up the fact that this whole campaign has been a murderous catastrophe for Ukraine, and a portrait in miscalculation and cowardice** for Europe. To allow that truth to come to the fore would spell the end of all US and European credibility; therefore, it will continue and possibly even escalate.

    And now I’m remembering the chant from some decades past protest/debacle here in the US (the Chicago D party convention?): “The whole world is watching!” And indeed, the whole world WILL BE WATCHING where Biden’s US goes from here. I would take heart in some of the rumblings coming from the US Congress about the wisdom of continuing this conflict with Russia through the proxy/client Ukraine***, except for the fact that the reasons given are all selfish reasons. Not one US political animal has shown true empathy for Ukrainians caught in the war between the long-groomed fascists and Banderites and the inevitable Russian pushback. If there have been ANY such US pols, I do not recall them. Not even a small group of elected political opinion leaders who insisted on peace and non-conflict instead of the tragedy now unfolding in Ukraine.

    * There is not even a shadow of doubt in my mind that the US blew up the pipelines, on the direct order of President Joe Biden.

    ** I do not believe that it is just cliche or a mundane truism that pursuing peace and non-conflict often takes more courage and determination than stumbling into war.

    *** Please folks, don’t fall for the rhetorical bait of repeating the term “Ukrainian proxies.” Ukraine is the US proxy in the neocons’, US exceptionalists’ campaign to eliminate the RU in the quest for continued US world domination. That makes the friends and allies of Ukraine also US proxies, after the fact. Fuck the NYT and all their government warmongering and think-tank minders. Don’t let Saruman and Wormtongue cloud your reasoning.

    • Tsuvia
      March 9, 2023 at 13:39

      Thank you for this intensely lucid comment, and to Joe Lauria and Consortium News too of course. I will try to get my annual CN check in the mail tomorrow.

  29. shmutzoid
    March 8, 2023 at 14:15

    Well, well…..the plot thickens. This is a solid bit of speculation put together from scraps of info – the apparent coordination of US and German press to tell this story following the highly secretive meeting of Biden/Scholz. ………….. Yes, it could very well be the US attempting to construct the proverbial “off ramp” to extricate itself from this mess. If that’s so, the fallout among NATO members who’ll feel used and abused could lead to that organization’s dismantling. (Hooray!) …………..

    Still, I find it hard to believe the US would just quit this war after investing so much in resources and political capital. Seeing Russia weakened and eventually dismantled is key to US imperial plans. The vast resources that’d be under US control is one man aspect – cleaving Russia away from China is the other. China is the ultimate target of this imperial project. ……… Time will tell.

    The political fallout for the US’s two capitalist political parties could be spun any which way. —–> “Biden is a man of peace, after all”………or, “Biden turns tail, leaving Ukraine in the lurch”. ……Anything that gets the killing to stop is OK by me.

    • March 8, 2023 at 19:07

      A Gulf of Tonkin in Taiwan or South China Sea allows Biden to brag of a “strategic pivot” to stop Chinese Communist Expansion. Don’t rule that out. Biden walked away from Afghanistan without blinking, at a time he had the Ukrainian war planned.

      • shmutzoid
        March 10, 2023 at 02:27

        I fully expect some kind of false flag event involving Taiwan – the perfidy of US imperial managers is not to be underestimated. After all, this is the “Decisive Decade”, per Biden. translated—–> subjugate both Russia and China to establish unquestioned global dominance.
        …………The US didn’t quit Afghanistan until having been there for twenty years! Ukraine?? I just don’t see the US/NATO doing anything but press ahead, incrementally escalating the war. …………. Of course, US war planners must be feverishly calculating parameters/capability for a possible war on two fronts. ….The public is left in the dark, like everything else about our foreign policy.

  30. CaseyG
    March 8, 2023 at 13:59

    How curious this entire story is. Perhaps Biden saw himself for a time as RAMBO? It makes sense to me that Crimea, as it is so Russian, belongs to Russia. And as Catherine the Great ruled it for 250 years—it seems infantile to think that Zylensky had the skills for this And Donbass too is truly Russian . I agree that Seymour Hersh make more sense than all the others.

    I guess Biden had to have his war…possibly making Americans forget–yes what was Biden’s son doing in Ukraine anyway?
    I am tired of them all as lies fly about like bats in the darkness.
    Do something useful for Americans , Biden, Blinken and Nuland as innuendo is not a true skill for war.

    • Valerie
      March 8, 2023 at 15:58

      Curious you say CaseyG. Nothing more curious than the brits believing (and going to war over) the Falkland Islands belong to them. They also lay claim to Gibraltar which is a stone’s throw from mainland Spain. So you see what hypocrites they are.

    • Jeff Monik
      March 9, 2023 at 10:43

      Is this all a way to clean out all the money to the elite, covid money ,mic money . all to prep for a world where the consumer is dead.
      Economic collapse was coming, is coming and why not get the money now while there is money to get.

  31. Lois Gagnon
    March 8, 2023 at 13:29

    The US led Western imperial project has officially been turned into a flaming clown car show. Every time it appears the lies and deceit verbalized by our make believe leadership couldn’t possibly expose their lack of any semblance of integrity anymore than they already had, they manage to outdo themselves. We can only imagine the conversations going on in Moscow and Beijing.

  32. Ed M.
    March 8, 2023 at 13:14

    The “Truth” as to “who did it?” can be found in the science. As Seymour Hersh mentioned in his expose’, a decompression chamber was onboard the ship that the divers used to ferry them to a spot above pipeline. When working at a depth of 240 feet, the divers would require decompression after they ascended to the surface or they would die as the nitrogen exploded in their bodies. Bringing along a doctor and a nurse wouldn’t cut it. So, who is it, that has pioneered and is the leader in underwater research and technology in deep dives and demolition? Who has the specialized equipment, on hand, that can be deployed virtually anywhere in the world? Who has the trained underwater (UDT/Seal) teams at the ready, stationed all over the globe? Who was the greatest beneficiary in the aftermath of the destruction of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines? Whooooooooooo?

  33. Cynical Rex
    March 8, 2023 at 12:56


    I have seen you interviewed in RT’s Crosstalk, and you really need your own regular video blog, posted on this site and perhaps hosted by Rumble: you are one of the best features of Consortium News. It’s a shame we don’t get your voice directly more often.

    Here is the interview on RT for anyone interested:

    A question for the other commenters:

    There is the argument that Russia is indeed the villain, and the threat from Ukraine’s forces in the Donbas was not imminent enough, that the limited shelling before Feb 24, 2022, even though increased, was not enough to justify an attack by Russia. There would be no Ukraine war and no threat of escalation if Russia had stayed within its borders. Could Russia have staved off the US, similar to how China is fending off the US from Taiwan? I believe Russia was provoked by US actions in Ukraine, but Russia becomes the bad guy when they took the bait and attacked Ukraine.

    • March 8, 2023 at 15:59

      The argument that Russia started the war in Ukraine is ludicrous. The war in Ukraine started in 2014 after a U.S. instigated coup overthrew a democratically elected president who was sympathetic to Russia. That war raged for 8 years and had been continuously supported by the U.S. before the Russians entered the war on behalf of the people in Eastern Ukraine who sought independence from the U.S. supported regime in Kiev.

    • Valerie
      March 8, 2023 at 16:04

      I wish i could see that interview Rex. But here in “democratic” europe we are not allowed RT or Sputnik. (I still haven’t fathomed why)

      • Henry Smith
        March 8, 2023 at 18:29

        Valerie. I read RT and Sputnik daily in the UK. I use Opera with the VPN activated. There were some issues in the past but both sites appear available now without problems. HTH

        • Valerie
          March 9, 2023 at 04:05

          .Thankyou Henry. I’m not in UK. And no too savvy with VNP’s and Operas.

      • Cynical Rex
        March 9, 2023 at 00:45

        Valerie, hope this helps:

        There are mirror sites/alternatives to Youtube that carry RT programs, such as Rumble or Odysee

        • Valerie
          March 9, 2023 at 04:07

          Thankyou Rex. Yes, that worked a treat. Have saved them now for future viewing.

    • Alan
      March 8, 2023 at 16:41

      Russian intelligence claimed to have strong evidence that an attack on the Donbas republics by Ukraine was imminent, and they determined that a preemptive strike was the wisest course. Let the critics of this strategy refute Russia’s evidence.

    • Realist
      March 9, 2023 at 01:36

      ‘There is the argument that Russia is indeed the villain, and the threat from Ukraine’s forces in the Donbas was not imminent enough, that the limited shelling before Feb 24, 2022, even though increased, was not enough to justify an attack by Russia. There would be no Ukraine war and no threat of escalation if Russia had stayed within its borders. Could Russia have staved off the US, similar to how China is fending off the US from Taiwan? I believe Russia was provoked by US actions in Ukraine, but Russia becomes the bad guy when they took the bait and attacked Ukraine.”

      Scott Ritter addressed that can of worms in this blog (Consortium News, May 30, 2022)

      “If Russia were the United States, operating under the notion of a “rules based international order,” the issue of outstripping the legal justification for a conflict would not represent a problem — one only needs look at how a succession of U.S. presidential administrations abused the Congressional authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) passed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks by wrongfully using it to justify operations that fell outside its legal authorities.

      A party can get away with such inconsistencies if they are responsible, like the United States, for making and implementing the rules of the game (i.e., the so-called “rules-based international order.”) However, Vladimir Putin, when meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the opening of the Winter Olympic games, committed himself on a policy course which sees Russia, together with China, rejecting the rules based international order that defines the vision of a unipolar world dominated by the U.S., and instead replace it with a multi-polar “law based international order” grounded in the United Nations Charter.

      Putin was very careful in trying to link Russia’s military operation to the legal authorities that existed under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter governing self-defense. The specific construct involved — which cited what amounts to a claim of preemptive, collective self-defense — hinges on Russian claims that “the Armed Forces of Ukraine were completing the preparation of a military operation to take control of the territory of the people’s republics. At some point soon, Russia will announce that it has defeated the Ukrainian military forces arrayed in the east and, in doing so, end the notion of the imminent threat that gave Russia the legal justification to undertake its operation.

      That came about because of the major battlefield successes of the Russian military. But it will leave Russia with a number of unfulfilled political objectives, including denazification, demilitarization, permanent Ukrainian neutrality, and NATO concurrence with a new European security framework along the lines drawn up by Russia in its December 2021 treaty proposals. If Russia were to call a halt to its military operation at this juncture, it would be ceding political victory to Ukraine, which “wins” by not losing.”

      It is the imminent threat posed by this alleged Ukrainian military operation that gives legitimacy to Russia’s claim. Indeed, both Phase One and Phase Two of Russia’s operation were specifically tailored to the military requirements necessary to eliminate the threat posed to Lugansk and Donetsk by the buildup of Ukrainian military power in eastern Ukraine. A problem, however, emerges when Russia completes its task of destroying, dismantling, or dispersing the Ukrainian military in the Donbass region. While one could have previously argued that an imminent threat would continue to exist so long as the Ukrainian forces possessed sufficient combat power to retake Donbass region, such an argument cannot be made today [as of 30 May 2022].”

      [Well, due to the stagnation on the battle front in Donbass, yes, it still can–which is not necessarily good for Russia. It’s nearly a year on and Russia has still not declared “victory” as fait accompli in the Donbass, given the persistent Ukrainian resistance in places such as Kershon and Batmut. The way Ukraine could freeze the conflict and prevent Russia from taking all of Russian majority Ukraine and important cities like Odessa and Kharkov would be for Ukraine to sue for peace and surrender their weapons right now. This would leave Russia with a half-fulfilled agenda and remaining danger of Ukrainian aggression on its borders into the uncertain future. I doubt that Russia could win any concessions in areas like neutrality, Nato membership or nuclear missile emplacement from Ukraine without the threat of military force behind them. If greater stability is essential at this specific location on Earth, better the war does not end prematurely, which sounds counter to everyone’s conventional wisdom ever spoken about war. But that’s the reality of living in the same world with Ukraine and the United States.]

    • Eddy Schmid
      March 10, 2023 at 04:15

      Quote, “the threat from Ukraine’s forces in the Donbas was not imminent enough, that the limited shelling before Feb 24, 2022, even though increased, was not enough to justify an attack by Russia.” Unquote. Ignoring the facts as they unfolded, does not say much. May I suggest, you go back and seriously study the events as they unfolded. You may be surprised to discover that Ukraine was BOMBARDING Donbass on a daily basis, and were preparing their forces to invade and do worse. It was only the decision of the Russians, to move first, that stopped that butchery in it’s tracks. The record is clear, if you bother to read it, and I’m not talking of the N.Y.T.’s cow manure they print. Sure there MAY have been no escalation if Russia had stayed within it’s borders, but sure as God made them thar lil apples, there’d be far less Russian Ukrainians alive today if they had done that. What’s more, I have a suspicion you are very much aware of that.

  34. Black Cloud
    March 8, 2023 at 12:42

    Sorry, Joe, but the idea that the US needs to “save face” is hilariously absurd.

    Anyone with more than two functioning neurons knows that Jeffery Epstein didn’t kill himself, there were no WMDs in Iraq, that covid isn’t natural, that billionaires own the government, that the media is pure government propaganda, etc.

    There is no face to be saved, only money to be made. The shift in narrative is already under way, in particular the “need” to radically industrialize the military while the economic, social, moral, and political collapse of the US accelerates precisely due to the actions of our leaders … er, stooges. Those idiots may be stupid enough (and probably are) to think that they are saving face but everyone knows the truth. It’s the emperor’s new clothes.

    • Tim N
      March 9, 2023 at 12:51

      I think maybe Joe meant that the US is saving face in their own minds, which is where their reality exists only. Anyway, no surprise as to the low-brow nonsense now emerging.

  35. Richard Burrill
    March 8, 2023 at 12:31

    This story in the NYT smacks of something the CIA would do: Blame someone else.

  36. Raymond Knowles
    March 8, 2023 at 12:06

    During the First World War, France lost so many men of fighting age that they became knows as the “Lost Generation.” As the war continues, Ukraine will is face the fact that it has lost many fighting age men. There are Russian reports, unconfirmed, that the Russians are encountering “young boys and old men” on the battle field. If that is true, then question that has to be asked is: How much longer can Ukraine continue to fight?

    • Eddy Schmid
      March 10, 2023 at 04:16

      Quote, “Unconfirmed reports” Unquote. DUH, what more do youwant than pictures of the youths and old men captured by the Russians ???

  37. JonnyJames
    March 8, 2023 at 11:59

    In addition to the excellent points raised here, one main objective of the proxy war has been achieved, at least for now. Germany has been cut off from Russian gas and now reliant on US LNG shipments. Germany will be even more dependent on the US and likely even more subservient, unless the German public grow a spine. This is likely another reason the distancing has started.
    The end result has been massive damage to Europe, yet relatively little damage to Russia.

    At the Financial Times and other outlets, we learn that Big Oil has seen record profits. RECORD profits, that is saying a lot.
    The Military Security Surveillance Complex has seen more billions shoveled their way. In this way, the US oligarchy wins no matter what. Ukraine is merely a pawn in the Grand Chessboard.

    Now that the pipelines have been blown up, one main objective has been achieved. Germany’s economic competitiveness has been hugely damaged. German companies have expressed interest in moving operations to the US.

    Here in California, we are getting gouged with obscene prices for natural gas and electricity. The “liberal” gov. Newsom, nor the D dominated leg. do anything about the blatant market manipulation and monopoly price-gouging. Many cannot afford to heat their homes – this is not just a problem in the EU. The US nat. gas will be shipped out for higher profits, and US folks will continue to get ripped off blind.

    Although most would love to see a truly “green” energy system, there is no shortage of petroleum in the world market right now, in fact a glut. The reasons for the massive energy costs (and cost-push inflation) is the war excuse, and massive manipulation. If they lifted the economic siege warfare of “sanctions” on Iran, Russia, Venezuela etc. the price of energy would…

    So, this is all a win for the Oligarchy, even though Ukraine has become failed state.

  38. Stierlitz
    March 8, 2023 at 11:42

    This morning, the swashbuckling chief of Wagner PMC Valerii Prigozhin was photographed in front of the WWII tank monument in Bakhmut. So the battle is in all probability a mopping up operation now. What still amazes me is how western governments deny us all the freedom to find our information where we want to. Impressed by video footage on the site of the Hindustan Times, I tried to access the Russian defence ministry. Impossible. I could access only by VPN and going through a Russia friendly country. Tass is regularly down and smotrin was hacked so nobody could hear the end of Putin’s last speech. What is this?

    • Encoreledo
      March 8, 2023 at 16:08

      The video can be seen here

    • Valerie
      March 8, 2023 at 16:22

      See my reply to Rex. I can still get Tass though. I’ll try the Hindustan Times.
      I think you are right about the mopping up. The news on Ukraine has taken a sudden dive (and in some cases completely disappeared) on most major british msm outlets, which is always an indication of something unpleasant going on they don’t want to discuss.

  39. March 8, 2023 at 11:35

    If the US abandoning the Ukes, they need to do some fancy footwork, quickly.


  40. Sally McMillan
    March 8, 2023 at 11:23

    I guess there are some people who will believe anything that the elite, including the media, tell them. To believe that Ukraine ,or some people connected to Ukraine , is capable of the Nordstream operation and did it without knowledge or assistance of the Western powers; namely, the U.S, NATO, and perhaps Norway. as Hersh reported on, is incredible. It’s another proxy attempt to deflect from Western culpability. That NYT would even print such nonsense shows not only their opinion of people’s intelligence, but also the decline of their own journalism. This coalition of government and media to deceive the people must stop . Both must face accountability; people deserve the truth.

  41. rgl
    March 8, 2023 at 11:06

    Looks like another US military debacle. How many billions of USD has the Ukraine sponged up now? 100 billion? 100 billion wasted USD.

    A real healthcare system, a world class healthcare system, could’ve been accomplished with this kind of money. But … nope. No money for americans, but billions for ukrainians. No student debt relief for americans, but billions for ukrainians.

    Just … wow.

    • March 8, 2023 at 19:14

      I get your point that that money could have been used much better at home, but to imply that the Ukrainians have benefited is sadly off-point. Nobody has suffered more than the Ukrainians in this debacle. They’ve lost thousands of lives, been displaced, their infrastructure destroyed, and their economy collapsed. Yes, the Ukrainian elites are buying mansions in Florida and hoarding their ill-gotten gains in foreign banks, but the people of Ukraine are in dire straits. They will continue to suffer until this is brought to a close. Even then, it is likely that Western Ukraine will suffer for decades to come. Russia will rebuild Eastern Ukraine, but Western Ukraine will be abandoned by the West just like they did with Afghanistan.

  42. Robert Sinuhe
    March 8, 2023 at 11:01

    Defeat is a bitter brew to quaff, but the U.S. must quaff it. They should have known better. Every statistic available should have told them that the enterprise would be a failure. The Ukrainians made a few attacks that made the western world feel that defeating the Russians would be a cakewalk. Hitler felt the same way. “All we need to do is kick in the door,” he said. That was his un-doing. Russia has four times the population of Ukraine. It also has a history of repelling invaders since the 13th century. Yet, the U.S. held on, compounding its stupidity and ignorance. They are trying to do the same thing with China. Good luck with that. My first sergeant who fought in Korea would have had a few things to say about that.

  43. Herman
    March 8, 2023 at 10:56


  44. Jeff Harrison
    March 8, 2023 at 10:48

    I suspect that this Ukrainian debacle is worse than you’re letting on, Joe. The US has for decades been trying to destroy Russia. The incessant color revolutions, the undermining of countries in their neighborhood by way of the ubiquitous US “N”GOs and the drumbeat of propaganda from the likes of VOA and RFE/L were all in service of keeping and extending American hegemony. We’ve had one massive failure in China already. Our efforts to undermine the Chinese government by way of Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong have ended in failure. Taiwan is for the future but I suspect we’ll fail there too. On the other end of Asia we have fared no better. We tried a repeat of the tried and true election fraud! Bullshit in Belarus and failed (as we did, ultimately, in Bolivia and Venezuela) and now the Ukraine debacle. Things don’t look good for American hegemony and they may look worse if the Europeans ever wake up to what slavishly following Washington’s lead has done to their economies and societies.

  45. bill
    March 8, 2023 at 10:17

    hopefully the article is correct in its interpretation of whats really happening.
    i wouldnt read any msm and this just strengthens this conviction

    • maria S Calef
      March 8, 2023 at 11:36

      ” group”?? There is requirement of highest tech, intelligence, equipment, expertise’s at state level, and more skills necessary to blow a pipleline like Russia Nord Stream.. NYT is another outlet imperialist to covert up terrorism and crimes like such level and nature.

  46. Eugene Milosh
    March 8, 2023 at 10:14

    Follow the Money and Technology. Also need a Deep Throat with a conscious

  47. Vera Gottlieb
    March 8, 2023 at 10:04

    The US needs to ‘save’ a lot of faces…with all their nefarious actions around the globe.

  48. do rengba
    March 8, 2023 at 09:50

    This little statement from above: “Bakhmut is an important hub in Ukraine’s defense of Donbass.” leaves a hint in direction of kind of a strange narrative.

    Starting with the fact that Kiev is in war against Donbass since 2014, this town may be seen as a hub for attacking Donbass, but rather not for defending it. Sorry for being pedantic concernng this little detail.

    Shortly before those articles came out, deflecting suspicion about a huge crime away from the U.S., one could read an enlightening piece form Alastair Crooke in Strategic Culture, where he reminded of a destructive and dangerous way, when staying within a crept-in hysteria, even secret servirces delivering bad advice now (“How Could Western Intelligence Have Got It Wrong, Again? They Didn’t. They Had Other Purposes”). Coincidence, sure, but as well explanatory, somehow.

      March 8, 2023 at 10:10

      Ukraine is no longer attacking Donbass from Bakhmut. It is defending it.

  49. Packard
    March 8, 2023 at 09:30

    From Day 1, there was never a single vital American strategic interest in all of Eastern Europe, much less meaningless Ukraine worth our risking a nuclear WW III with Russia over. Not one. Yet, here we are today.

    Not that any of our endless-war mongering Washington DC elites give a toss, mind you. D*MN!

    • David Otness
      March 8, 2023 at 11:49

      You are eminently correct in your assertion above but for some missing details, primarily that is this is a war only concerned with the wishes of the wealthiest in the West, not the common people—at all, or ever.
      Going back to the wars of the previous century, that is, the conflicts of this scale and larger, some digging behind the scenes will show that the same elitist class of several nations, the socio-economic ultra-rich usual suspects who hold so much of the Earth’s material wealth already, are the “players” behind the scenes in their ongoing quest for sole possession and domination of the planet’s land masses and resources, at least those which humans have come to associate with wealth and power. And the Russian Federation just happens to be the largest chunk of all not in their possession.
      And that is something they cannot stand nor put up with. It’s in their hard-wiring, baked in their cake.
      And those of us of a military career age especially are as ever their tools, whether we like it or not. I’m fairly certain many Ukrainian conscripts are of a like mind.

  50. Henry Smith
    March 8, 2023 at 08:53

    IMO, no-one believes this story but if it gets the west out of Ukraine and results in peace then that’s a positive. Obviously, on the negative side none of the western criminals will suffer any repercussions but then that’s western democracy for you, hope Zelensky realises his days on this planet are numbered !
    The problem is that if the west leaves Ukraine then you can guarantee they will be heading off to China for the next debacle.

    • March 8, 2023 at 14:37

      Yes, Henry S., your point is well taken that this development- i.e. the apparent preparations of the U.S., Germany and possibly others for abandoning Ukraine is both good-news and bad-news.

      While it may slowly ratchet down the risks of nuclear conflict w/Russia that U.S. (/NATO) escalations have represented, all the signals are suggesting that the U.S. is anxious to move on so as to complete its pivot to China. It has already begun economic warfare on China and seems to be trying to bait it into ‘invading’ Taiwan. That would allow it to once again attempt to build a western-leaning power coalition to join in its economic war on China and a further military buildup around it.

      U.S. has largely succeeded in turning Australia into a vassal, and to a lesser extent, New Zealand as well. Australia’s abandonment of its citizen, Julian Assange, is one signal, and its growing acceptance of U.S. militarization is an even bigger one. In NZ, that so-called ‘progressive’ Jacinda Ardern (and now Chris Hipkins) had adopted Washington’s framing of the Ukraine war and supported it unquestioningly; and NZ is under steady and increasing pressure from the Washington-directed ‘alliances’ (and its corporate media) to take more strident positions on China even as NZ’s leaders have noted how important good relations (in trade) with China are to the nation.

      There are any number of ways that the U.S. can now call the shots and make the marionettes dance. I think the opening acts have already been seen.

  51. BP
    March 8, 2023 at 08:52

    This war that never should have happened, need to end ASAP. Thanks for your professional and honest reporting.

  52. torture this
    March 8, 2023 at 08:34

    With allies like the US, who needs enemies?

    • Vera Gottlieb
      March 8, 2023 at 10:06

      Right on!!! Too bad that so many people are blinded by the US’ bragging and arrogance and remain in awe of this criminal.

  53. Paul Citro
    March 8, 2023 at 08:19

    I no longer trust The New York Times.

    • Dienne
      March 8, 2023 at 10:51

      You never should have.

    • SH
      March 8, 2023 at 11:39

      Hmm, you used to trust it before?

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      March 8, 2023 at 12:50

      I have not trusted the New York Times for many years.

  54. mgr
    March 8, 2023 at 08:11

    Evidently, Seymour Hersh’s story is gaining traction, as it should, in much of the world. Now we have these efforts by the NYT and the German paper Die Zeit that seem like a “Hail Mary” attempt to stem the tide. Amazing how much chaos and destruction US neocons create in the world without consequence which leads to even greater destruction the next time. Thanks so much Mr. Obama for “Look forward not back…” Not exactly an example of a profile in courage. We are still reaping the effects of his fecklessness.

    Of course, the UNSC could actually do its job and compel Sweden to release its findings, as Russia requested. It seems obvious that if Sweden had found even a scrap of evidence that could have linked Russia to the bombing they would have been singing it from the rooftops. Hear any singing..? So, who done it?

    Also, if I understand correctly, not all the charges went off. If so, I would imagine that would provide important evidence about the culprits. So why is this evidence being kept secret? More eyes on the evidence could certainly help in discovering the criminals involved. Isn’t that a good thing? Funny, it’s almost like they don’t want anyone to know. Go figure.

    But then of course, the US “international rules based order” is just a “bunch of good guys” and, by definition, what they do is good. This is despite the fact that they are the ones that foment and feed wars, kill and displace families on an industrial scale (900,000 dead and 13 million displaced from the Iraqi war) and now blow up the civilian infrastructure of sovereign nations for their own purposes. Yeah, “good guys” that operate like the Mafia. I think I’ll go with international law instead.

    So now, after 100 of thousands of deaths, millions displaced and lives and livelihoods destroyed, and a nation decimated, US neocons want to slink away again. Who knew that the grand masters of the universe and creators of reality are actually a species of cockroach.

    • Selina Sweet
      March 8, 2023 at 11:22

      I appreciate your rather off-hand style of comment of such deadly serious awful USA machinations. It covers the territory allowing surges of frustration, fury, heart hurt, disgust, profound sadness without getting submerged in them. Yet, the explicit manipulative sociopathy of the drivers of USA policy deeply disturbs. Is sociopathy the requisite hurdle to qualify you to work in the higher echelons of the USAgovernment?

      • mgr
        March 8, 2023 at 20:30

        Selina: Thank you. Good points. Sociopathy, it seems, is certainly rewarded in particular areas and, especially with neocons, is now utilized by both parties. I remember an article by John Kiriakou in which he related that many of the people that he encountered in the CIA operations wing were sociopaths. Overall, it’s laugh or cry.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      March 8, 2023 at 12:52

      “So now, after 100 of thousands of deaths, millions displaced and lives and livelihoods destroyed, and a nation decimated, US neocons want to slink away again. Who knew that the grand masters of the universe and creators of reality are actually a species of cockroach.”

      My thoughts exactly. US: “Sorry, Ukraine. We’ve got to go home now. Er, sorry about all the ruined cities and the dead people and all. Bye bye.”

      • mgr
        March 8, 2023 at 20:48

        Carolyn: Yes, indeed. It seems like the US modus operandi. I can imagine that Biden is starting to feel a pressure that he can understand. His 2024 campaign is about to begin. I don’t think being up to our ass in Ukraine, including financially, is going to do him much good…

        Nonetheless, perhaps Russia won’t let him slip away. The US has not negotiated anything with Russia in good faith since the fall of the Soviet Union, but only for unilateral advantage (Scott Ritter). I doubt that Russia will let it go now until it has a true, enforceable mutual security agreement, including Ukraine’s strict non-militarization.

        The whole issue is ideological, the multi-polar world that Russia, China and others are advocating for is based on the principle of win/win coexistence. The ideology of neocon-led America is zero/sum and submission. Ultimately, I think, this is what is being decided in Ukraine. I believe that the US is firmly on the wrong side on history on this. Not to mention that we have on hand today, for our inspection, what 30+ American uni-polar years have wrought. More is simply suicide.

        But yes, in the tragic words of Madeleine Allbright, “We think its worth the price.” A price of course that she never had to pay.

      • Martin Kidwell
        March 10, 2023 at 18:43

        Given the US’s history of pursuing failed military/foreign policies for years after the failure was apparent, its hard to imagine the US abandoning Ukraine only a year into the war, particularly since weakening Russia was the primary motivator and a necessary first step in its pivot toward the larger objective: confronting China. If the US does abandon Ukraine, it will certainly be looking at other opportunities to undermine Russia (e.g., operations in former Soviet states). The larger goal of preserving and expanding US hegemony doesn’t change even if Ukraine is a failure.

    • Randal Marlin
      March 8, 2023 at 17:10

      Like you, I picked up from reading different accounts, that one of the four pipelines survived the attack. One of the accounts has mentioned that it was one of the two Nordstream 2 pipelines. Of course, “survived” does not mean “continuing to supply gas,” because both Nordstream 2 pipelines were inactive because of sanctions. Hersh’s account mentions three out of four pipelines blown up, but I couldn’t determine, from his account alone, which one remained operational.
      What’s important here is how the different stories told deal with factual information. If a story claims that all four pipelines were destroyed and there is proof that one survived, that would be one reason, perhaps not conclusive, for doubting that story.

      • mgr
        March 8, 2023 at 21:02

        Randal: Yes, thank you for that. And there is more. Just for your interest, this is taken from a comment on an article at nakedcapitalism that logically debunks the idea of casually using a sailing yacht for the bombing as described in Die Zeit. I think it is worth noting the technical complexities involved in the Nordstream bombing enterprise:

        “March 8, 2023 at 10:36 I am Ex-US Navy submariner and PADI certified Divemaster here. There is NO way a group of 5 people on a small sailboat could have managed this.

        “If you spend anytime below 40 meters, 120 ft. you need mixed gas. That is assuming that you are doing a ‘bounce’ dive, meaning no time in a decompression chamber. Additionally, the amount of time you can spend at that depth is very limited with no decompression. Mixed gas diving, or technical diving, is very dangerous. That’s why most commercial divers don’t use it. What they do is use compressed air. They go down, stay down, and then they use a decompression chamber when its time to come back up.

        “This type of diving is not for amateurs. Its a dark, cold, hostile environment that will kill you in a second if you make a mistake.You need to be highly trained and practiced to do something like this. The technical aspects of this type of operation are immense. A sailboat? Any diver will tell you that the efficiency of using a sailboat as a diving platform is marginal at best. They are not designed to be used as a diving platform. Well, yeah, on a sailboat you can put on a tank and do a rec dive in shallow calm waters. I’ve done it. But how do you get back on the boat? At a very minimum you need a swim platform on the stern. Yes, this particular sailboat could have had a platform, but, we are not talking about a single tank rec dive. The amount of equipment that a deep diver has to wear weighs in the hundreds of pounds. Also, this dive was not done in shallow, calm waters. A small sailboat in the open ocean, even when the seas were calm, would rock like crazy when there is no forward motion. And you can’t anchor. Its just too deep.

        “No, 5 “commandos” on a sailboat did not do this. It would be impossible.” []

          March 8, 2023 at 21:51

          Just a point of fact, the tale being told is that it was a yacht, not a sailboat. We are not told how large the yacht was, but yachts can be as large as 500 feet.

          • mgr
            March 9, 2023 at 10:18

            CN: Yes, thank you. I am hoping though that it helps to dispel the idea that a small, thrown together team of a few people could quietly and casually slip into the area and pull off such an operation; it requires a large support team, lots (even tons) of equipment, a rather large and well equipped yacht or ship, training and time on location. Not to mention, several thousand Kg of explosives.

              March 9, 2023 at 17:44

              Of course it is an absurd notion that such a small team could pull this off. The NYT never mentioned the yacht story and instead built a case for state involvement and specifically that Ukraine was likely that state.

        • Walter
          March 9, 2023 at 11:15

          Properly, the real divers had very sexy mixed gas re-breathers and machinery to blow or vacuum the muck in which the pipes were buried. Demolition divers that blow bubbles die really fast. And bubbles are noisy… Sweden used to hear herring farts and conclude they were bubbles from mysterious soviet subs…

  55. Francis Lee
    March 8, 2023 at 07:59

    It was always long-odds that Ukraine and its Atlantic allies and local supporters would lose this war given that the costs were too prohibitive. First time around the Ukrainian government led by the then illegal titular head of Ukraine – Poroshenko – embarked on a disastrous offensive in the East Ukraine which he described as being a simple police operation. This chutzpah was ill-judged despite the tacit support – both domestic and international – by Ukraine’s allies in 2014 for what were the military adventures in the heart of Eastern Ukraine. The offensive did not go well, however, and the ill-trained and equipped Ukrainian army was soundly beaten in battles at Iloviask and later in 2015 at the Railway Junction of Debaltsevo, by the Donbass locally formed militias.

    The Ukrainian forces dug themselves in along the line of contact and limited themselves to laying siege to the Donbass – mainly Donetsk and Lugansk – for a second round of conflict from 2014-2022. This siege was estimated to have killed 14000 Donbass civilians.

    However, during this time the build up of the Ukrainian Army for an attack on Donbass was readied for another assault, but this time spurred on by the West. But now the Russian intervention had tipped the scales – starting April 24 – and the allies including Europe and the US were now beginning to wonder if their rather foolish decision might have been a faux pas. The whole fragility of the shaky coalition has started to spread, and the repercussions were being felt particularly in western Europe and now even to the United States. This reassessment is now being reflected as a sobering rethinking and manipulation of the situation in the mass media.

    Western Europe is, with the exception of the UK, not exactly over the moon with the current drift of events: Germany, France, Italy are not exactly on board with the US, and even the American media is beginning to have second thoughts about their own commitment to the cause. Perhaps only the Eastern Euro allies Poland, Romania the Baltics, and Norway (‘’we blow up pipelines’’) are still solid, but they don’t count.

    What is being played out in the deep movement of the geopolitical power-structures – their movements and direction. However, predicting how they will develop, is forever something of a guessing game.

  56. Valerie
    March 8, 2023 at 03:57

    From Mr. Lauria’s article:

    “The newspaper here is allowing U.S. officials to begin distancing the U.S. from Ukraine, claiming Washington has limited influence on Kiev, despite years of evidence to the contrary. The piece appears to be preparing the Western public for an abrupt about face in Ukraine because of a litany of Ukrainian operations the U.S. says it opposed.”

    I believe this will come as no surprise to anyone who has been following this whole dêbacle. For some time now i have noticed the “gung ho” attitude of the west and their support begin to sour and lose traction. Together with anti-war, other related protests and unstable governments (predominantly the UK) in europe, people are realising the impact on their lives the bogus reasons they are given, to suffer for this proxy war.

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