Monday, August 31, 2009
RUSSIA last night said nothing suspicious was found on the ship Arctic Sea seized by suspected pirates in the North Sea this month.Rather more informative speculation comes from Asia Times. I assume the country with the "distinct interest" in Israel not being attacked is Israel:
Speculation was rife about a secret cargo of arms or nuclear materials, as a ship carrying timber would be an unlikely target for pirates.
"On July 24, between the islands of Oland and Gotland, the vessel was attacked by a group of 10 to 12 people in black masks. They beat and bound the crew while searching for something on the vessel. According to some sources, the hijackers spent nearly 12 hours on the Arctic Sea before leaving empty-handed.
After the attack, the crew reported the incident solely to the Russian Embassy in Helsinki, which then relayed the information to Swedish authorities a couple of days later. Meanwhile, the Arctic Sea followed its course.
On July 28, the Arctic Sea had the last radio contact with the British Coast Guard as the ship entered the English Channel between Britain and France, at which time the crew reported everything was okay. However, according to other sources, the final transmission was on July 30, 80 kilometers south of Penzance in southwest Britain.
After that, the Arctic Sea sent no signals and the vessel disappeared from radar screens. It was allegedly hijacked again on August 3, at which point the hijackers demanded a $1.5 million ransom for the vessel's safe release.
... On August 14, the Russian navy rescued the vessel in international waters 480 kilometers off the West African island nation of Cape Verde.
... The Moscow version raises, among others, the following questions:
If, for the past 500 years, there have been no pirates in the Baltic Sea, why have they suddenly reappeared?
Given that a hijacking operation of this scale is financially costly, why would the pirates target an old rusty vessel with cargo of even lesser value?
Why did the pirates leave it? Did they really abandon the ship?
When and by whom was the ship hijacked again?
Why did the Russian navy and the FSB suddenly decide to act so decisively to rescue a Maltese-flagged cargo ship, while ignoring the plight of Russians captives overseas - for example, sailors hijacked by Somali pirates or arrested under false pretexts by Nigerian authorities?
Only one thing is clear: the Russian authorities have something to hide.
Julia Latynina, a Russian investigative journalist, noticed that, before the Arctic Sea received its cargo in Finland, it underwent two weeks of maintenance in the Russian port of Kaliningrad, a major Russian military base in the Baltic Sea.
This is where, Latynina presumes, the ship was loaded with a cargo attractive to the pirates. Could it be drugs? No, says Latynina. They wouldn't be worth a sophisticated operation of hijacking a ship in the highly policed waters of the Baltic Sea. She believes that the only plausible explanation must be an illegal shipment of weapons destined for, say, Iran or Syria. Moreover, there were no pirates, but rather a group of professionals sent by a state displeased with these activities.
This correspondent asked a former GRU (Russian Military Intelligence) officer, who many years ago escaped to the West, what he thought was on board the Arctic Sea. Instead of giving a direct answer, he suggested checking an obscure Russian-language website Anvictory.org, where a former Russian military officer based in Ukraine, Vladimir Filin, posted an article entitled, "Biochemical weapon which [Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin intends to drop on Jewish heads." Filin writes that the Arctic Sea, under the cover of a load of Finnish timber, was delivering a shipment of weapons to Iran via Algeria.
Filin said the crates (loaded on board in Kaliningrad) could have contained four X-55 strategic cruise missiles (without front sections) and devices to implement an air launch from military planes of the SU-24 type, provided that the aircraft were retrofitted as carriers of a single cruise missile.
He asserts, too, that this was not the first shipment. According to Filin:
Russia had previously delivered to Iran the front sections of X-55, which was retrofitted to carry Soviet-made chemical weapons.
The biochemical weapons were already delivered from Russia to Iran by air. It was expected that, in the near future, Russian specialists would arrive in Iran in order to bring the SU-24 and X-55 up to a state of readiness and to train Iranian military personnel.
It was also expected that, given the high probability of an Israeli military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, X-55 missiles loaded with biochemical warheads could be used in the Iranian counterstrike against Israeli cities.
[...] Given the scale of the potential international brouhaha, a country with a distinct interest in preventing this shipment chose to interdict it in an unofficial manner.
[...] So far, this is all what I have to say."
Now why is our media so useless that they have effectively nothing to say over this & we have to rely in the Hong Kong press to report what happens in the English Channel. It clearly isn't because it embarrasses our government this time. Why can't they report events that aren't pre-arranged or reporting that hasn't been predigested to remove anything complicated or unusual? Is it because our entire media lives on press releases & briefings from government & government approved sources & they have just got out of the habit of reporting things themselves?
This is the version of events aggressively promoted by the official Russian media.
You could easily replace Russian with American, British or German. Each country maintains a state-controlled media with the only competition being between states.