Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Just in Time For Talk Like a Pirate Day!

The Russian Navy will be sinking Somali pirates.

Warships flying the Saint Andrew's Flag will soon appear in African waters. Not for exercises, but with a firm combat mission. The CinC of the Russian Navy Admiral Vladimir Vysotskiy announced on Tuesday that Russia will join with international forces in the fight against piracy around Somalia very soon. He stressed that Russia will make a decision about this independently, and not in the context of any sort of international operation (Comment: Probably refering to TF150, currently led by a Canadian officer IIRC). If there is a successful battle with Somali pirates that are regularly attacking shipping, one can say that our country will have finally returned to the ranks of great maritime powers. That status is not just determined by presence in the world oceans, but also by concrete action. By the way, the maritime situation around Somali is a very knotty problem.

A special agreement on the fight against piracy will be concluded with Somali authorities according to a decision made earlier by a judge on the United Nations International Tribunal on Maritime Law Anatoliy Kolodkin in order that our ships presence in Somali waters is fully legal. Officials in Mogadishu have similar arrangements with 11 other countries already including with the USA, UK and France. The agreements stipulate not only military operations against freebooters, but also cooperation with investigative organs of the signatory countries. But none of the eleven nations have had any success (Comment: Here is a perfect example of the Russian press stretching the truth for internal propaganda purposes and setting the Russian Navy up to look as good a possible since the French have recently had a spectacular success against piracy only last week).

It is worth remembering that this year pirates have more than once captured foreign ships and Russian citizens crewing those ships. There is the example of attacks on ships belonging to a Russian company, but flying the flags of other countries. Somalia has become a corsair stronghold of late. Official government power is unable to influence what is happening on the coast. "The government controls only 51 percent of the country," Vadim Zaytsev, a representitive of the general director of the think tank "Rosafroekspertiz", told RBK daily.

Accordingly, Russia simply cannot turn its head from the problem. Indeed among the five basic principles of Russian foreign policy recently articulated by President Dmitri Medvedev, one priority was the defense of life and safety of Russian citizens "no matter where they are". Now it is time to back up these loud words with action. The escort of Russian and in the event of a request, foreign vessels with armed defense against corsair attack - this is the bare minimum that the Navy must be prepared to do. Besides that, thanks to this mission Russian sailors will receive valuable experience in conditions approaching combat.

Meanwhile there are a whole parcel of complications that come with anti-piracy operations around Somalia. "It isn't quite clear for now where our ships participating in raids against pirates will be based," Vadim Zaytsev noted. "Besides that, if Russia is to act effectively, then she risks at the very least a negative image among the local population." According to experts, the relative stability in the region is due in part to piracy. Many Somalis simply do not have any other sources of money and sustenance. And besides that, Somalia is an Islamic country. And if Russia raids this hive of pirates, like the USA did before, this can raise problems with the Islamic world. This could very well lead to Islamic terrorists targeting Russian embassies in African countries in retaliation.


Nikolay Ivashov


The following is total wild ass guessing on the part of the Russian Navy Blog:

1. This article appears asserting that "Admiral Vladimir Vysotskiy announced on Tuesday that Russia will join with international forces in the fight against piracy around Somalia very soon."

2. The Admiral Chabanenko and the Peter the Great just left Severomorsk on their excellent adventure Sunday.

3. The Task Force will be putting in an appearance in Tartus, Syria on their way to Venezuela.

That makes me wonder - are sailors on the Chabanenko and Peter the Great ordering their "Order of the Ditch" certificates right now? There is a lot of time to kill between now and the middle of November. Granted, it would probably be a pretty short excursion to the Horn of Africa given the timelines involved, but it does make you want to engage in irresponsible speculation.

In fact, it would be downright irresponsible NOT to speculate...


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