By lex, on August 19th, 2009
A Russian journalist claims that the Arctic Star was not carrying Finnish timber as first reported, but rather something more infernal:
“The Arctic Sea was carrying something, not timber and not from Finland, that necessitated some major work on the ship,” she wrote in the Moscow Times newspaper on Wednesday.
During two weeks of repair works in the Russian port of Kaliningrad just before the voyage, the ship’s bulkhead was dismantled so something very large could be loaded, she wrote.
“To put it plainly: The Arctic Sea was carrying some sort of anti-aircraft or nuclear contraption intended for a nice, peaceful country like Syria, and they were caught with it,” she said.
Mighty decent of the Russian navy to intercept the ship carrying whatever it was the Russian government put aboard her, if indeed it was the government that did. It would certainly help explain why the Russians flushed their Black Sea fleet to find the vessel, but it does raise some disturbing questions about operational security – not to mention non-proliferation – if the Russians are not only secretly moving nefarious cargo to points unknown but failing to keep their motions secret from pirates, then we’ve got bigger problems than the usual “great game.”
The alternative is that some non-government actor within Russia employed the Arctic Star to smuggle out of country a capability that could not otherwise be exported through normal channels. Considering the eagerness with which the Russian defense industry flogs its high tech wares abroad – and I’m not throwing stones, here – this is, if anything, a more worrisome possibility.
The US National Command Authority is that “dog that didn’t bark” in this story – all comment comes from Russian sources and legacy media. That’s either because the NCA has nothing to say or no idea what to say.
Which is 50% encouraging.
** 09-09-2018 Original link gone; replacement found – Ed.