And the German government has warned against jumping to conclusions, as the investigation is still ongoing. German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius even mentioned the risk of deliberately leaving clues to muddy the waters: "It may be a false-flag operation," he said, "it would not be the first time in history."
An American hypothesis
Who had an interest in destroying the pipelines? This question was asked in September, and several hypotheses were on the table. I personally mentioned that of Russia, as it had unilaterally cut gas supplies a few weeks earlier and was playing the card of European panic as winter approached. But that was just one hypothesis among others.
Hersh's theory has been readily embraced by pro-Russian networks.
A theory of alleged American responsibility has also attracted attention: The United States, according to this scenario, wanted to prevent any resumption of Russian deliveries in order to force the hand of the Europeans. A prominent American journalist, Seymour Hersh, asserted in early February that the explosives were placed on the pipelines during NATO maneuvers during the summer, to explode in September.
But Hersh, who had his moment of glory during the Vietnam War, has since lost a lot of credibility and often flirted with conspiracy theories. His theory has been readily embraced by pro-Russian networks.
So now we have a new lead of pro-Ukrainian involvement, again to be taken with a pinch of salt.
Importance of optics
Why is this case so important? In a conflict of this magnitude, the main battle is for public opinion. The massive financial and military aid that the West provides to Ukraine, against the Russian invasion, relies on sustained and majority support from the citizens of contributing countries. If a doubt arises about the motivations or actions of one of the conflict's actors, this support may be threatened.
Information wars, invisible but very real, thrive on these doubts. It is therefore essential that the truth be established. The good news from this episode is that an investigation is underway and making progress. Germany, as well as Sweden and Denmark, the Baltic Sea neighbors, had announced investigations, but there has been no news on that front.
The elements revealed yesterday are obviously insufficient to draw conclusions. They raise more questions than they answer. But we can now hope that the truth will come out. This is essential.
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