Russia Says Something Fishy on MV Arctic Sea
The NY Times reports on our ongoing saga of the cargo ship MV Arctic Sea , presumed hijacked by pirates in European Waters last month:
Russia’s top general said on Wednesday the military would search the Arctic Sea merchant ship for a possible secret cargo when it returns to Russia from a maritime odyssey that has made headlines around the world. Russia says the Maltese-registered Arctic Sea, officially carrying timber from Finland to Algeria, was hijacked by eight men off the coast of Sweden on July 24. This month Russian warships intercepted the vessel off the coast of Cape Verde.
“We do not know yet what it is carrying, we only know it is timber. But what else it is actually transporting. It has yet to be clarified,” Nikolai Makarov, chief of Russia’s general staff, told reporters during an official visit to Mongolia. “We want to make sure that there is nothing but timber on board this ship. The motive for the seizure is simply not very clear,” said Makarov.
Now the officials are getting suspicious. Is this an act or are there powers working in the Kremlin, with the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing? The West is concerned about WMDs, and so far Russia has been careful about the proliferation of such weapons. But there could be nefarious powers at work within who aren’t so accommodating. Here is more good stuff concerning the ship’s crew from The Faster Times:
Both the crew and the “hijackers” have been flown to Moscow, where the former are “helping police with their inquiries” and the latter have been arrested for kidnapping and piracy. But neither the crew nor their captors have told their story in public, and the investigating authorities have been extremely cautious in their statements. The families of the crew, who have not been allowed to leave Moscow, have complained that they are being treated as suspects rather than victims.
Are they suspects or does the government wish to keep them away from the press after this badly bungled affair? More theories on what was the cargo and why was the MV Arctic “hijacked:
It doesn’t take much imagination to come up with a “stolen nuclear weapons” theory, so the liberal weekly Novaya Gazeta at least deserves some recognition for coming up with this (half) credible back story. The S300 is, indeed, one of the few Russian weapons systems that Western militaries genuinely fear, and the Israelis and Americans have lobbied hard to prevent Russia from supplying the rockets to Iran. Last year even senior Israeli military officials were publicly worrying about it. So far, the Russians have complied – at least overtly. If Novaya Gazeta is to be believed, someone decided the deal should go ahead covertly. The Arctic Sea was loaded with S300s destined for the Islamic Republic via Algeria. Unfortunately for the smugglers, Mossad got wind of the plan and organized the hijacking in the Baltic. And, naturally, both Russian and Israeli officials have denied it.
Here is Wikipedia on the S-300 missile system:
The S-300 is also capable of destroying ballistic missile targets, and is regarded as one of the most potent anti-aircraft missile systems currently fielded. Its radars have the ability to simultaneously track up to 100 targets while engaging up to 12. S-300 deployment time is five minutes. The S-300 missiles are sealed rounds and require no maintenance over their lifetime. An evolved version of the S-300 system is the S-400 (NATO reporting name SA-21), entering service in 2004.
So many questions, and so many answers? Just pick one and it’s probably right!