WHO IS MUDDING WATER AROUND THE KURSK?

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Sergei Turchenko Trud, March 13, 2001

SUMMARY:

Ilya Klebanov’s statements concerning the Kursk and the future operation in the Barents Sea are confusing. Several days ago the executive said the operation would take place and even promised a special resolution of the government in the near future. Now he says the operation will be delayed and cites financial problems. In his previous statement he was quoted as saying that financial problems had been successfully negotiated.

The delay may mean that the major phase of the operation will be carried out during the period of storms in the Barents Sea. If the Kursk is not lifted this year, it will probably remain on the seabed forever because corrosion of the hull will make the lift impossible two years after the catastrophe.

Analysts offer two hypotheses explaining the delay. One of them concerns inability of the Russian government to meet its financial obligations. Russia is supposed to raise about $25 million. The other suspects possible pressure from Washington. An American submarine rammed a Japanese ship recently. The United States may fear that the hull of the Kursk will display evidence of collision with an “unidentified submerged object”.

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