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Russia Says Something Fishy on MV Arctic Sea

August 27, 2009
tags: ,

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!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 30, 2009 3:40 pm

    Mike,

    Right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing. The corpus callosum has been cleaved.

  2. Mike Burleson permalink*
    August 30, 2009 6:45 am

    When you factor in the Akula subs, and I know I keep harping on this but it nags at me, then this was apparently a major operation to get by UN sanctions. Could be the Norks and Russkie were in cahoots. But at the same time, we hear that S-400 batteries have been deployed against the Nork border. Supposedly it was S-300 the MV Arctic Sea was carrying. So, what’s up with that?

  3. August 29, 2009 11:17 pm

    OK, this is arms smuggling rather than piracy. Or, is it? Perhaps we’re seeing the unraveling of something more complex…

    Because, there is this North Korean connection that seems to keep arising…

    1) The Indian Coast Guard took into custody a Nork commercial vessel that had illegally anchored in the Andeman Islands. Its cargo of ‘sugar’ was being examined by Indian officials. That ship had many lapses in its offical logs and appeared to be some sort of smuggler.

    2) When the Russian Navy frigate Ladnyy caught up with the MV Artic Sea off the northwest coast of Africa the master of that merchant vessel claimed that the ship was actually a North Korean vessel.

    3) A similarly named North Korean (as claimed by the Russian master of the MV Arctic Sea) was then anchored in an Angolan port (according to North Korean officials) at the time when the MV Arctic Sea was intercepted by the Russian Navy frigate Ladnyy.

    And now – we have this. Anyone want to speculate about connections…

    ‘N Korean arms for Iran’ seized by UAE

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/1cc52dcc-93f6-11de-9c57-00144feabdc0.html?nclick_check=1

    UAE Seizes North Korean Weapons Shipment to Iran (Update2)

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=ap9U2VfbfCBs

    UAE seized N.Korea arms shipment bound for Iran

    http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N28380600.htm

  4. August 28, 2009 6:06 pm

    Maybe now we know why the Indian Navy was so interested in the sugar cargo of that North Korean ship they captured in their Andaman Islands.

    UAE seizes ship with weapons from North Korea bound for Iran, diplomats say

    From Richard Roth
    NEW YORK (CNN) — The United Arab Emirates seized a ship carrying banned arms from North Korea to Iran, diplomats told CNN Friday.

    The incident occurred in early August and was reported to the U.N. Security Council’s North Korea Sanctions committee, Western diplomats at the United Nations said. The diplomats did not disclose which country owned the vessel.

    http://cnnwire.blogs.cnn.com/2009/08/28/uae-seizes-ship-with-weapons-from-north-korea-bound-for-iran-diplomats-say/

  5. Mike Burleson permalink*
    August 28, 2009 6:29 am

    Alexey said “why would NATO be so silent where it should be first to trumpet worlwide the catch russian weapon supplies to Iran regime”

    Probably because there is no proof as of yet. We have heard numerous possible scenarios on the Blogs, from pirates to Space Aliens! There is too much mystery here to be sure, but I still wonder what the connection was with the two Akula subs sailing off our East Coast, at the time this supposed “hijacking” was going on.

  6. Alexey permalink
    August 28, 2009 3:51 am

    Would not it be suspicious that information is supplied mostly by russian source – and in fact weapon smuggling fact is supported by them including high ranking officials rather than NATO source? Would not it be russian intellegence service scenario where they managed and to spot weapon smuggling made by one of the proponent of NATO (let say Ukraine) in favour of another proponent (let say Georgia)? And those dump intimates captured were part of russian intelegince game? Why would georgian’s president have fired defence ministry recently. Would not it be for this smuggling failure? It is well known that weapon supplies to Georgia supported military conflict in Caucauses last year and led to tension between NATO and Russia. Russian substantiated the USA supporting weapon supplies to extravagant regime of Saakashvili have led to instability in the region and actually blame him in USA supported assault. If that true or at least partly true, NATO is in big sh.. once it become knowm in public. But now trading is going on under scene between Russian and NATO/USA. why would NATO be so silent where it should be first to trumpet worlwide the catch russian weapon supplies to Iran regime?

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