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[Analysis] Arctic sea: some updates. And the beginning of the serial novel…

(BRUSSELS2) The odyssey of the Arctic Sea, with on board what looks more like a band of nickel-plated feet than a team of organized “pirates”, leaves you dreaming. Everyone has their own versions. I don't have the official version or even the secret version. But some elements of information, and reflection.

This merchant navy ship flying the Maltese flag was attacked by pirates in the open Baltic Sea at the end of July (read: Summer Odyssey: The Arctic Sea, first episodes), then disappeared without leaving a trace for several days, before being found near Cape Verde.

Some food for thought

1° The European Commission – which I questioned – persists and signs and sees nothing to change in its August statements. Yes there is a second attack off Portugal, after the one off Sweden ". And it’s not about “ not a classic act of piracy », according to the spokesperson for the Transport Commissioner (1).

To be sure, I asked a European expert to define for me what a “classic act of piracy” is. And here is the definition he gave me, specifying that all the elements were as important as each other: “ 1° one villainous act, 2° to seize a ship and/or cargo or personnel, 3° with the intention of obtaining a financial advantage”. Even if the Commission refuses to comment on the ongoing investigation, carried out... by the Russian prosecutor's office, its version contradicts current Russian statements.

2° The two versions delivered in the press which are currently circulating: one from the Russians, with a pirate attack with vaguely ecological motivations, the other with the intervention of the Mossad to stop a delivery of Sam S 300 missiles to the Iran, are not convincing. They leave more questions asked than they answer. Who were the members of the first team? Why do the Swedes let this happen? Who were the members of the second team? When did the team of nickel-plated feet arrive on board the ship? Why was the ship's track officially cut off? Why was the order to find the ship given with such solemnity? Why are so many Russian resources mobilized in broad daylight? Why did it take so long to empty the boat of the “unofficial” equipment it contained (if it contained any)? Etc…

3° Tarmo Kouts who is at the origin of the information on the Mossad is in fact above all an Estonian deputy, member of the party “Pro Patria and Res Publica” and author (with two other deputies: Kurt Bodewig, Aristotelis Pavlidis) of a report on piracy for the Western European Union (WEU) (and not for the European Union). Former chief of staff of the armed forces (until August 2006, with the rank of vice-admiral) and above all former head of the Estonian coast guard, this experience gives him a certain skill. On the other hand, he was not entrusted with any European mission. A statement clearly confirmed, both by the European Commission and the European Union.

Some Important Facts

1° A first team sets foot on board the boat. She stays there for 12 hours. “Speaking English poorly,” they then disappear, vanishing into thin air. Without the Swedish or Finnish authorities (the boat belongs to a Finnish company and transports Finnish wood) reacting. If this version is real, this assumes that this team belongs to a country, if not a member of the NATO zone, at least very close to the Allies.

2° The ship would never have been lost from sight by the maritime authorities of the various European countries, as shown by the information communicated by the European Commission at the end of August, mentioning an attack off the coast of Portugal. Information drawn from a good source, apparently directly from the maritime surveillance services of the countries concerned. The “disappearance” of the ship after crossing the Channel and reporting it to the Brest Cross (France) would then be a “feint”. But to escape from whom?

Kaliningrad would have been the port of embarkation of the “contraband” material (Sam weapons according to the latest information communicated to Iran). A boarding carried out by the Russian mafia. Alone ? This hardly seems possible. Given the configuration of Kaliningrad. It seems certain that at least one of the Russian security services was not involved in the operation, or at least aware of it.

There the facts end and the novel begins. Or rather the novels. As I also like spy or detective novels, here are some ideas for authors lacking imagination.

Some avenues of interpretation

First avenue: a divergence within the Russian security apparatus. Part of the “services” supports the export of prohibited products. Another seeks to torpedo it. Hence the two collisions. And Medvedev's decision to send, in the most solemn way, the warships, sounds like a clear message: you will clash with us if you continue.

Second track: the contract with Iran. Russia is determined not to deliver Sam missiles to Iran. But it is more or less bound by the supply contract. What you have to do is respect the contract. But don't deliver. The impediment must be sufficiently public to suggest that the contract has been respected.

Third avenue: the intervention of an allied service. The first attack – off the coast of Sweden – is carried out by an allied service (the Mossad… or rather another). This is to send a clear warning to the Russians that they are taking charge of the matter: the boat is under surveillance. We know what he's carrying. Now take care of the matter, and at the highest level of the State.

Fourth track: the intervention of a Russian service. The second attack, off the coast of Portugal, is carried out by the “loyalist” Russian services with the responsibility of steering the boat out of the major international circuits. Giving enough time for Russian ships and air assets to “position”.

Soap opera to follow…

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

  1. Maritime piracy issues at the European Commission fall primarily within the competence of the Commissioner for Transport. A regulation of March 31, 2004 on maritime security prescribes certain measures to prevent terrorism and piracy in particular.

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Updated on the form to clarify the different elements

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

One thought on “[Analysis] Arctic sea: some updates. And the beginning of the serial novel…"

  • Hello,

    In connection with the Arctic Sea affair, here is another scenario.

    The Arctic Sea was carrying a commodity that the Mossad believed to have “purchased” in Russia.

    A Mossad team approaches the Arctic Sea.

    NATO aware of the Mossad operation lets the Arctic Sea continue on its way.

    Followed by the competent Russian services, the Arctic Sea was intercepted and released by the Russian Navy.

    Benjamin Netanyahu goes to Moscow to take into account the list of conditions to be fulfilled by Israel to forget this operation.

    It should be noted that according to this scenario, the DGSE cooperated with the Russian services.

    If it hadn't been for the Mossad, NATO would have intercepted the ship. The material would have been exhibited with traditional Russophobic speeches. But in this case, NATO looks at its feet and Benjamin Netanyahu rushes to Moscow. Moscow, which welcomed the cooperation of the French secret services in the fight against terrorism. Only in this struggle?


    Ilya Kanak

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