A Columbia University economist has claimed that the United States may be behind the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline, declaring that multiple journalists have said they believe it was an attack directed by Washington, but are unable to report it.
Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, appeared on Bloomberg TV on Monday and was asked about the Ukraine conflict.
Seismologists in Denmark and Sweden a week ago said they had registered two powerful blasts on Monday in the vicinity of the leaks from the Nord Stream pipeline, and the explosions were in the water, not under the seabed.
Most analysts in the West have blamed Russia, accusing them of trying to escalate the conflict and pressure Europe to rescind its support for Kiev.
Sachs, an advisor to top UN leaders and friend of Bono’s, who was an advisor to the Yeltsin government in Russia from 1991 to 1994, said he suspected the reverse.
Influential economist and UN advisor Jeffrey Sachs on Monday said he ‘would bet’ that the U.S. was behind the sabotage of Nord Stream
Tom Keene, the Bloomberg host, interrupted when Sachs said he believed the U.S. was responsible for the pipeline explosion
The pipeline leak is seen on September 27, viewed from a Danish F-16
‘I would bet (the explosion) was a U.S. action, perhaps U.S. and Poland,’ he said.
‘That is speculation.’
‘Jeff, we’ve got to stop there,’ said Tom Keene, the Bloomberg host. ‘Why do you feel that was a U.S. action? What evidence do you have of that?’
Sachs said he saw several reasons.
‘Well, first, there is direct radar evidence that U.S. military helicopters that are normally based in Gdansk were circling over this area,’ Sachs said.
‘We also had the threat from the US [President Biden] earlier this year that “one way or another we are going to end Nord Stream.”
‘We also had a remarkable statement from [US] Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken last Friday in a press conference where he said “this is also a tremendous opportunity.”
‘That’s a strange way to talk if you’re worried about piracy on international infrastructure of vital significance.’
Biden on February 7, standing next to the new chancellor of Germany, Olaf Scholz, stated at a White House news conference that the U.S. would ‘bring an end’ to the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline if Russia invades Ukraine.
The pipeline is not yet operational, but was due to come online later this year.
‘If Russia invades – that means tanks or troops crossing the border of Ukraine – then there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it,’ said Biden.
Joe Biden, seen on Monday, said in February that if Russia invades Ukraine, the world ‘will bring an end’ to Nord Stream 2
When pressed for details on how he would keep that promise given that the pipeline is not under U.S. control, Biden did not elaborate.
‘I promise you, we will be able to do it,’ he told reporters.
Sachs seized upon Biden’s words.
‘I know it runs counter to our narrative, you’re not allowed to say these things in the West, but the fact of the matter is all over the world when I talk to people, they think the U.S. did it,’ Sachs continued.
‘Even reporters on our papers that are involved tell me ‘of course’ [the U.S. did it], but it doesn’t show up in our media.
President Vladimir Putin said on Friday the United States and its allies blew up Nord Stream.
‘The sanctions were not enough for the Anglo-Saxons: they moved onto sabotage,’ he said.
The Kremlin said allegations of Russian responsibility were ‘stupid’ and Russian officials have said Washington had a motive as it wants to sell more liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe.
The White House has dismissed the accusation that it was responsible, and Biden said on Friday damage to Nord Stream was a deliberate act of sabotage.
Sachs said he was ‘on the side of peace’ and was deeply concerned about the conflict and the possibility of nuclear war.
‘Russia feels that this war is at the core of its security interests,’ he said.
‘The United States insists it will do anything to support Ukraine’s defeat of Russia. Russia views this as a proxy war with the United States. Whatever one thinks about this, this is the path of extraordinary, dangerous escalation.’
He said Western media was distorting the situation, to suggest the whole world was united against Russia.
‘A lot of the world is watching these events in horror, and a lot of the world doesn’t like this NATO expansion, which they interpret as at the core of this,’ said Sachs.
‘They want to see a compromise between the U.S. and Russia.
‘In vote after vote at the United Nations, basically, it has been the Western countries that have been voting for sanctions and denunciations and other actions. Whereas most of the world, certainly most of the world counted by population, is on the sidelines. They view this as a horrible clash between Russia and the U.S.
‘They don’t see this, as we do in the media, as an unprovoked attack by Russia on Ukraine.’
Sachs pointed out that the trouble began in 2014, with the annexation of Crimea, and the trouble had been brewing ever since.
Was this the staggering act of self-sabotage by Vladimir Putin the world assumes it to have been?
‘This conflict goes back a long time, it didn’t start on February 24, 2022. In fact, the war itself started in 2014, not 2022. and even that had antecedents,’ he said.
‘Most of the world doesn’t see it the way we describe it. Most of the world is just terrified right now, frankly.
‘It is unbelievable to be hearing on one side that they will use nuclear weapons if they have to, while the other side says, ‘You can’t frighten us.”
Sachs said the world was ‘entering the most unstable geopolitical era in many decades.’
He said: ‘We’re entering the first hyperinflation in more than 40 years. And we’re entering the first escalation to the nuclear precipice in 60 years. Sixty years ago exactly this month was the Cuban missile crisis. This is the most dangerous moment since the Cuban missile crisis.’
And he accused political leaders of not doing enough to counter the tensions.
‘It is an extraordinary overload and we see no attempt to tamp this down or to quiet it down,’ he said.
‘Every day is about escalation, we’re going to defeat the other side, we have our rights, we can stand up for what we want. We have Speaker Pelosi flying to Taiwan. We have so many provocations in the midst of huge instability.’
Sachs is certainly no stranger to wading into controversy, and frequently criticizes U.S. hegemony.
He said in July that COVID-19 ‘quite likely emerged from a U.S.-backed laboratory research program … A natural spillover is also possible, of course. Both hypotheses are viable at this stage.’
And he has dismissed worries about rights violations against Uyghur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region.
Speaking on BBC’s Newsnight last year, he said: ‘I’m not sure why BBC started with listing only China’s human rights abuses – what about America’s human rights abuses?’