First, the Russian Navy sends half a fleet thousands of miles to rescue the crew of the Maltese-Flag cargo ship ARCTIC SEA despite having no obvious reason to do so.

Next, the Russian Government has to deny accusations that the ship was carrying secret cargo on behalf of the Russian Government.

Then, the Russian Government has imprisoned not only the hijackers but also the crew which still have yet to call home to their families.

The crew members were not allowed to go home on Thursday: like the hijackers they were taken to the Lefortovo remand prison for questioning. In Arkhangelsk the families of the crew waited for their loved ones with their eyes glued to their televisions. However, there was no indication of when the men would get home. “I only know what was said on television. I hope that I can see my husband as soon as possible”, said mechanic Vladimir Kazhinin’s wife Olga to Helsingin Sanomat by telephone.

Vazir Fazylov, the father of seaman Dmitri Fazylov was surprised that his son was not even allowed to call home. “Nobody is saying anything. We’re just watching TV. This is stupid.” – Helsingin Sanomat

And now, the Russian Navy plans to tow the ship over 4,000 miles to Russia for ‘further investigation’. (Bypassing the ship’s flag-state of Malta.)


It’s almost like the Russians know that there is something on the ship worth hiding. Surely, they have already investigated the ship from top-to-bottom, and any part of the ship not accessible due to cargo onboard would be accessible in Algeria once the cargo was off-loaded. Algeria would be the place to inspect the ship given that the cargo is headed that way and it would be somewhat idiotic to offload all that timber just to re-load it, unless there is something secret hidden under it after all.

One more thing. Why are the Russians towing the ship all the way back to Russia? It would be much faster and safer to sail it under its own power. The Ship operator had stated last week that it was planning to send out a replacement crew to the ship. Maybe the Russians don’t want more prying eyes around?

It is almost as if the Russians have hijacked the ship themselves.

Posted by FFry in Foreign Policy, Maritime Security, Piracy
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  • UltimaRatioReg

    Chalk up another win for our “global maritime partners”, the Russians.

  • Perfectly within their rights under article 105 of UNCLOS, it seems. “On the high seas … every State may seize … a ship … taken by piracy and under the control of pirates, and arrest the persons and seize the property on board. The courts of the State which carried out the seizure may … determine the action to be taken with regard to the ships, aircraft or property, subject to the rights of third parties acting in good faith.”
    Still doesn’t make sense, but it’s legal.

  • Byron

    Because the Russians had a cargo aboard they didn’t want off-loaded anywhere else but a Russian port? Because the crew twigged to what was on board, and maybe was asking for a little more money than they were getting paid?

    No, I don’t write spy thrillers…but I do think some of this might have a bit of truth in it.

    Just go back to the old lawyers saying: Who Profits?

  • D. E. Reddick

    Check over on EagleSpeak’s blog for more reporting and speculation regarding what’s aboard MV Arctic Sea. There are now claims that the Israeli Mossad caused the hijacking to happen. Anyway, here’s a further example of some of the reporting:

    “The Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported over the weekend that the vessel Arctic Sea had been carrying x-55 cruise missiles and S300 anti-aircraft rockets hidden in secret compartments among its cargo of timber and sawdust.”

    Purportedly, they would have been offloaded in Algeria and transshipped to Iran.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    So, the question unasked would have been;

    What if the Russians had different intentions for Arctic Sea? And instead of placating Shimon Peres, decided to back Iran? Who from the Global Maritime Alliance/Thousand Ship Navy would have been willing to interdict had the Russians supplied escort instead of seizing the vessel?

    Depending on the ebb and flow of relations between Russia, Iran, Israel, Ukraine, and Algeria, such a scenario is closer than we think.

  • D. E. Reddick

    Here’s a weird detail coming out of Ukraine. Relatives of a fisherman thought to have drowned three years ago are claiming one of the hijackers is their dead relative. Hijacker Andrei Lunev appeared on Russian TV and his mother and aunt have recognized him.

    With the majority of the crew (11 out of 15) being held at the same prison as the eight hijackers then there is a question of which actors are actually stooges.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Should anyone think this issue has limited consequences, I offer this blog entry from Dec 08.

    Note the remarks in the blog regarding Russia’s relationship with Iran.

  • Is the current intrigue a resumption of Soviet mini-submarine capers from 1983, as reported by TIME magazine?,9171,923609,00.html
    “Nor could it produce a satisfactory explanation of how the mysterious intruders had penetrated the defenses of the naval base, whose radar keeps a continual watch on Sweden’s Baltic Sea coastline facing the Soviet Union….
    The suspicious movements that prompted the October search, the commission said, were “part of a larger operation in the southern portion of the Stockholm archipelago.”

    The current MV Arctic Sea episode began off the coast of Sweden, between the islands of Öland and Gotland. Was the Acrtic Sea a mini-sub transport vessel? For comparison see MV Carolyn Chouest.

    What is the attraction from the southern portion of the Stockholm archipelago? Guess where is the Royal Palace. One stair down the southern row lies Skattkammaren (the Treasure Chamber) which contains the Swedish crown jewels.