Alexander Khamchikhin, chief analyst at the Political and Military Analysis Institute Vremya MN, August 13, 2002, p. 1

The results of the Kursk submarine investigation are somewhat odd: no people are to blame for the sinking, only the torpedo that exploded. In fact, Russia doesn’t need huge submarines like the Kursk. The Navy in its present state doesn’t fit in with Russia’s political and economic conditions.

The investigation into the sinking of the Kursk submarine has been thorough, and not only because the prosecutor’s office was eager to do its job. Some objective circumstances have also contributed. In past incidents, all submarines (the Soviet K-8, K-219 and K-278 Komsomolets, and the American Thrasher and Scorpion) sank in deep waters. Depths of over 2,000 meters made salvaging and investigation completely impossible. But the Kursk sank at a depth of 100 meters… All the same, the results of the investigation are somewhat odd.

It turns out that oxidant leaked from the torpedo engine through microscopic cracks, and ignited in the air. But how did the cracks originate? Was it a manufacturing defect, or improper storage? In any case, someone was responsible. Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov made an amazing statement at a news conference: he said that those people could not have known that improper storage would result in an explosion and the sinking of the submarine!

It follows that no one and nothing but the torpedo was to blame. The torpedo has already got its just deserts, with other torpedoes of that type being phased out by the Navy. But why? This kind of torpedo is a powerful weapon – almost an ultimate weapon – provided it is manufactured and used correctly.

The then-commanders of the Northern Fleet have been dismissed (and apparently they don’t mind, since one has become a senator and the other a deputy presidential envoy); they will not be penalized. After all, the exercise that became the Kursk’s last was prepared in a hurry. The admirals were eager to report to the president that the Russian Navy had been fully restored.

The Navy doesn’t fit in with Russia’s existing political and economic conditions; Project 949 submarines (like the Kursk) are a perfect example of this incongruity. Such huge and expensive vessels should not be built for the purpose of only one task, particularly when this task is no longer necessary (in this case we are talking about sinking American aircraft-carriers).

The Caspian Flotilla shows what Russia needs its Navy for now. Dealing with international terrorists is a secondary task, only for the purpose of providing TV images. What really matters is oil. The Caspian Flotilla is stronger than all the navies of the other Caspian states combined. In theory, it could take over the Caspian Sea and all its oil resources. The script for the recent exercises did not mention this, of course; but the task must have been implied, all the same. Russia needs its Navy, and the Armed Forces overall, in order to defend its economic and political interests. Forget about shows of strength.