This story of the disappearing “lumber” freighter just keeps getting stranger and stranger, as this excerpt from the Moscow Times shows. At least we know that it wasn’t a completely inside job – even though Russian officials are still acting awful cagey, NATO did assist them in tracking the ship down? So one would assume that if the government were playing a role in a supposed arms trafficking transaction, which seems like the most plausible explanation, they probably wouldn’t have to ask for help.
Yet the official version of what transpired is fraught with inconsistencies, prompting observers to suggest that Russian authorities are trying to cover up a smuggling or trafficking operation.
When Swedish police first said the ship had been hijacked near the island of Gotland on July 24, they cited the crew as saying masked men had bound and beat them before fleeing in a high-speed boat.
Yet Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said Monday that the same hijackers — four Estonians, two Latvians and two Russians — were found on the ship off West Africa and they surrendered without a shot being fired. (…)
Tarmo Kouts, an Estonian lawmaker and former commander of theEstonian armed forces, said that the “strange story” surrounding theship could only be explained by illegal arms trade.
“You can easily hide an alley of cruise missiles under a lumberstockpile,” Kouts told the Postimees newspaper in comments publishedWednesday.
Writing in Wednesday’s issue, Moscow Times columnist Yulia Latyninaspeculated that the vessel was secretly shipping arms via Algeria to arogue state like Iran or Syria.