The Arctic Sea is a Finnish cargo ship, not exactly a small ship and even though the coast of France is not known for the pirating that we have become all to familiar with off of Somalia, the rough Atlantic waters off of Europe have been known to take down a few ships regardless of their size. But the case of the Motor Vessel Arctic Sea’s disappearance was quite mysterious.
At the time of its vanishing there were no particularly rough storms and seas that it was encountering, there were no distress calls made from it and there were no ransom requests or threats that would have led one to fear another pirating incident on the high seas.
After departing Finland, the Arctic Sea was taking what the public was told to be a cargo of timber to Algeria. Although timber is not a particularly higher than average priced or rare or precious commodity the load was still worth over two million dollars, yet even that large amount of money would not normally be enough to try to hijack a vessel the size of the Arctic Sea.
But on August 17th the Russian cargo ship was discovered off of the coast of West Africa and at that time 8 hijackers were arrested for allegedly taken the shift over after the Arctic Sea found and rescued the four Estonians, two Russians and two Latvians on an inflatable raft that the 8 claimed was in trouble of sinking.
But Israeli intelligence officials challenged this story.
Officials of the Mossad along with collaborating witnesses in Moscow state that the Arctic Sea pulled into port at Kalingrad for repairs and while there, it was loaded with Russia’s most advanced anti-aircraft weapon, S-300 missiles. According to the Mossad, while monitoring arms shipments to Iran, they discovered that former Russian military officials connected to the Russian underground sold the weapons to Iran.
If true, the incident would have been incredibly embarrassing and controversial for Russia so it would seem that the Russian government concocted the hijacking story to cover up by creating a story that claimed four Estonians, two Russians and two Latvians on an inflatable raft in the Atlantic, hijacked a ship carrying timber.
Meanwhile unidentified intelligence officers claim that the Mossad may have planned the hijacking by setting up a known criminal Russian gang with the intent being that such an incident would have allowed the Kremlin to save face by being seen as orchestrating a brilliant rescue of the hijacked cargo ship. Such a plot by the Mossad would have still helped to insure their ultimate goal which was to prevent the shipment of antiaircraft missiles from getting into the hands of the Iranians.
In the days to follow the mission that found and retrieved the Arctic Sea, its cargo and crew, the Kremlin issued a security blackout and no one involved was allowed to speak to their families. And to add fuel to the fire, shades of old Soviet style suppression were demonstrated after Mikhail Voitenko, a Russian expert on piracy, received threats from a Russian official who was not happy with Voitenko’s public contradiction of the Kremlins official story. Voitenko has since fled Russia out of fear for his life.
Moscow was also angered by Admiral Tarmo Kouts, a former commander of Estonia’s armed forces and the European Union’s expert on piracy. Kouts stated that the only believable reason for the mysteriousness of the incident was that weapons were being transported.
Other experts point to the Mossad’s involvement in the hijacking setup because of a coincidentally timed trip to Moscow that Israeli President Shimon Peres participated in. During that trip Peres and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met for four hours of private talks. In regard to those talks, Tel Aviv confirmed that Medvedev verbally assured Peres and Israel that Russia will not sell “advanced weapons” to Iran or Syria.
That statement however, leaves me wondering about so-called “non-advanced weapons”.
Will the Kremlin willingly sell Iran and Syria crude explosives, machine guns, bullets and launch propelled grenades?
If Russia did sell even such “non-advanced weapons” to a country like Iran, which is officially classified as a state sponsor of terrorism, would that not be grounds for the United States to place Russia on the same list of state sponsored terrorists?
Putting aside for a moment any international conspiracy involving Israel and the Mossad in a hijacking cover-up, clearly the situation is not good. Russia has seen its own domestic problems with terrorism and the governments instability and uncontrolled underground crime rings which reach high up in to the Kremlin does not exactly make Russian citizens or anyone other than Iran, Syria, Libya and a few other rogue regimes happy.
The Arctic Sea incident is an alarm bell and the U.S. Departments of State and Defense better be answering its call.
Russia’s instability can not be ignored.