Russkies being a bit naughty?

Just seen on ITV news, and again on CNN that a Russian-flagged cargo ship has been stopped off the coast of Scotland, amid rumours that it is transporting arms to Syria.

What does ARRSE think? will this change the Syrian situation, or will it be more of the same from all sides, with no progress being made?


The ship has not been stopped, but its insurance has been revoked. A Russian Military cargo ship is also being tracked, believed to be en route to Syria. So not quite as dramatic as first thought. But it's still not any less interesting for it.
I assume they're supplying the arms to the Assad regime, since they're a strategic Russian ally in the region, but you know what they say about assumption...
Seems a long way round... but not many other options.
You should link this to the thread where the Patriot missiles were seized on their way to South Korea or China, seems everyones a it these days.
From The Daily Telegraph:

Britain stops Russian ship carrying attack helicopters for Syria

A Russian ship believed to be carrying helicopters and missiles for Syria has been effectively stopped in its tracks off the coast of Scotland after its insurance was cancelled at the behest of the British government.

The MV Alaed which altered course after being hailed by Dutch authorities and was north-west of Scotland last night

By Richard Spencer, Adrian Blomfield and David Millward

8:34PM BST 18 Jun 2012

The British marine insurer Standard Club said it had withdrawn cover from all the ships owned by Femco, a Russian cargo line, including the MV Alaed.

"We were made aware of the allegations that the Alaed was carrying munitions destined for Syria," the company said in a statement. "We have already informed the ship owner that their insurance cover ceased automatically in view of the nature of the voyage."

British security officials confirmed they had told Standard Club that providing insurance to the shipment was likely to be a breach of European Union sanctions against the Syrian regime.

They said they were continuing to monitor the ship, which has been the subject of a fierce international row since US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week revealed it was adding to the arsenal of weaponry available for Mr Assad to use against rebellious Syrian towns.

"We have various ways of keeping track of this ship and that is what we are doing," a source told The Daily Telegraph.

The MV Alaed picked up its cargo of Mi25 helicopters – known as "flying tanks" – from the Russian port of Kaliningrad, where they had been sent to the state-owned manufacturer Mil's "Factory 150" for servicing and repairs.

They were originally sold to the Syrian government by Moscow, its major arms supplier, at the end of the Soviet era.

The ship headed south through the North Sea towards the English Channel on its way to the Mediterranean and, most likely, the Syrian port of Tartous, also home to a Russian naval base.

But under sanctions announced last year, the EU has banned not only exporting arms to Syria but also providing related services such as insurance.

As first revealed by The Sunday Telegraph at the weekend, the US notified the UK government that the insurance was British last week.

As it neared the Dutch coast, the authorities there also hailed the ship, the security sources said, and it made an abrupt turn, heading towards Scotland. It was last night now off the coast of the Hebrides but with no insurance covering the ship security sources say it may now have to return to port.

In their attempts to bombard rebel towns into submission, Assad regime forces have increasingly brought up helicopters, strafing the towns of Haffa and Rastan last week.

Their use, condemned by Kofi Annan, the UN peace envoy, has not stopped Russia's continued insistence on providing arms to the Syrians. Moscow is continuing with a 2007 contract to provide more than 20 MiG-29 M2 fighter aircraft, according to the Americans.

Russia also announced it was preparing to send an elite unit of marines to Tartous, a move which a Western defence source said was intended as a powerful signal that Russia would not tolerate foreign military intervention.

Classified US satellite images last week indicated that loading work had begun on two amphibious landing vessels, the Nikolai Filchenkov and the Caesar Kunikov, at the Crimean naval base of Sebastopol.

A Russian officer quoted by the Interfax news agency said they would carry marines charged with protecting the security of Russian citizens and evacuating a part of the base, marking the first time Moscow has sent troops to Syria since the uprising against Mr Assad began more than 15 months ago.

If fully loaded, the two vessels could carry as many as 600 troops and 24 tanks.

Russia's Nezavisimaya Gazeta, citing anonymous military sources, suggested that the soldiers would be drawn from the elite Pskov airborne brigades and special forces units stationed in Chechnya.

Russia was particularly unnerved after William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, and other Western officials compared the slaughter in Syria to the civil war in Bosnia in the 1990s, the Western defence source said.

They believed the comparisons amounted to a coded signal that the West was preparing to authorise a Nato mission to Syria similar to the peacekeeping operation mounted in Bosnia and later in Kosovo.

But the deployment also signalled that Russia was hedging its bets, according to the source.

"The purpose is threefold," he said. "First, they want to send a signal to the West about military intervention. Second, they want to demonstrate support for Assad.

"But they are also preparing for the worst and realise that the worsening situation may leave them no choice but to evacuate their nationals as a last resort. If that happens, it is game over for the Russians.

"They project strength, but know their position in Syria is actually a weak one. It may be this is a last throw of the dice."

At a meeting on the sides of the G20 summit in Mexico, Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, agreed a political process was needed to "stop the bloodshed in Syria", according to a joint statement.
Lets hope that agreement can be reached on all sides, on the bright side, BAOR may stay a while longer
What they say they are doing and what they are doing are two different things. You really think the Russians are gonna say "We are sending arms to a dictator engaged in a a nasty civil war that will be used purposely on civilians"
Not that I have any axe to grind here, but this sounds a bit like Officer Bubba pulling a car over for a bust taillight, courtesy of his nightstick. UK Govt leans on insurance company to cancel insurance. Boat pulled over for no insurance. Ivan ain't gonna like this too much. Why not torpedo the Russian naval ship too, and say a big boy did it?
Cos that's been done before by the Koreans and will fool nobody. What the Brits did is eminently more civilised and will result in the Ruskies getting the equivalent of a fixed penalty fine and 6 points on their license.
I simply don't believe the Russians would be so underhand and beastly!!1! I mean it's like the whole world is ganging up on Syria and expecting Russia, against all odds and experience, to just drop everything and bow to the US!!1! Say it isn't so!!1!

Serious head on for 2 ticks: just check what FRA does nearly every day if you want see what realpolitik looks like.


Book Reviewer
The Yanks can't upset the Russkies on Syria. Reason is - we're****ed getting stuff out of Afghanistan without the Russkies, and Putin knows it. Expect Obama and Putin to agree to leave Assad in place. If we do any morestupid things like stopping that ship, we'll be****ed too.

A problem for you:
- Unless we want the Armyto have to 'walk to work' for the next 20 years, we're going to need vehicles.
- They are all in HERRICK, and we can only get them out via Russia or airyplane.
- One method is MUCH cheaper than the other.
- We are skint.

Work it out for yourself :)
Cos that's been done before by the Koreans and will fool nobody. What the Brits did is eminently more civilised and will result in the Ruskies getting the equivalent of a fixed penalty fine and 6 points on their license.
A NK job would work. Just plant evidence of a underwate UXB from WW11.
Couple of points, this removal of insurance is just a gesture, seriously does anyone think this Russian ship is just going to stop and get new insurance. Best case scenario the Russian government underwrite the thing. In Jan a big thing was made about a Russian ship being stopped in Cyprus as its destination was Syria, it was allowed on its way next day after the captain to change his destination, the new destination was not disclosed.

Russia need and want a Navel port of Syria so they will prop up the present government.

As for not upsetting the Russian, I hear what you say Oldsnowy, but come the time, either through Pakistan to Karachi then shipping or Train through Turkmenistan, ferry to Baku and then Turkey seems the easier route. A few problems, but easier than the long way round.
Loved the headline "Britain Stops Arms Ship to Syria" and was expecting tales of derring-do, SBS grappling hooks over the side and men in black with stun grenades showing these darned foreigners what good old British defiance can do. However, it was 1st Battalion the Underwriters who came to the rescue this time. Cancelling the policy, what a dashed clever thing to do. Old Flashy would have been proud of the way they charged in, red biros at the ready, slashing amendments here and cutting exclusions to the policy there. If they try and wriggle out of it, we'll slap a fixed penalty notice for not having a SOSN (Statutory Off Seas Notice).
Now all we need is the TA version of Lloyds underwriters to infiltrate the Taliban, flog them life insurance policies but make them aware of the invalidity should the policy holder put themselves into risk situations and it'll all be over by Christmas.
I'm glad the Americans have various means of keeping track of this ship, because we, of course, have an embarrassing capability gap when it comes to maritime reconnaissance.


What with Russia not being allowed to win the Euro football thingy (I don't do footie-unless Eng-er-land win) and now this kerfuffle with withdrawing insurance from this ship. I expect the price of gas from Russia will be increasing!
We have an embarrassing capability gap with regard to a lot of military capabilities; the one thing that SDSR got truly wrong was the scrapping of Nimrod MRA4 without aviable replacement, even if only in small numbers.
What they say they are doing and what they are doing are two different things. You really think the Russians are gonna say "We are sending arms to a dictator engaged in a a nasty civil war that will be used purposely on civilians"
Why wouldn't they?

It's not as if anyone's going to do anything about it other than sulk.
There is something very untoward about this vessel, exactly what, nobody is too sure. Some irrefutable facts:

  1. The vessel is operated by FEMCO-Management Ltd, ul Kurilskaya 38, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Sakhalinskaya oblast, 693000, Russia on behalf of the owners Volcano Shipping NV, Kaya Flamboyan 11, 5999 Curacao – who own ONE vessel.
  2. The insurers Standard P&I Club per Charles Taylor & Co were instructed by various EU agencies to withdraw insurance cover for the vessel as its operation is allegedly in contravention of commercial maritime law. Thus it can only sail for its port of registry (Willemstad, Curacao) – should be interesting to see if the port authority allows it to dock!!
  3. Danish United Nordic Shipping rejected an allegation, naming themselves as a commercial operator of the vessel. Satisfactorily itself and its activities to the Danish Maritime Authorities.
Now there is the question of recent and present voyages – very mysterious!!
The vessel arrived in Saint Petersburg on June 4[SUP]th[/SUP] having departed Gibraltar on May 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] after refuelling with no intermediate between those date. The voyage began in Nakhodka, a Russian Far East port, transiting the Indian Ocean, Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea. With cruise speed 12.5 knots vessel had to reach Saint Petersburg from Gibraltar in 8-10 days, not in more than 30 days!! So where was the vessel between May 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] and June 4[SUP]th[/SUP]? Looking at the possibilities and the unexplained time gap, it is more than feasible that the vessel left Gibraltar and returned to Tartus, Syria and unloaded its questionable cargo before heading to Saint Petersburg – in fact, if there was such a trip, it was finely tuned into the dates of Gibraltar and Saint Petersburg arrivals.

As of June 18[SUP]th[/SUP] the vessel is allegedly en-route from Saint Petersburg to Vladivostok according to the filed plan and AIS, but it’s not exactly so. The vessel left Saint Petersburg on June 8[SUP]th[/SUP] and called at Baltiysk, a well-known military base on Baltic Sea on June 10[SUP]th[/SUP], departing on June 11[SUP]th. [/SUP]This base in Kaliningrad Oblast has a major helicopter repair and refurbishment facility – how interesting!! This morning having been advised by Dutch authorities that its insurance has been withdrawn the vessel has made drastic changes of course and is now off the west coast of Scotland – most odd if the vessel has done nothing illegal!! This on-going voyage is becoming as intriguing as the last, but we’ll find soon enough – the vessel either will cross the Atlantic to transit Panama Canal, or will pass Gibraltar and transit Suez, or will “disappear” and show up much later somewhere in Suez or Red sea.

Photograph of General cargo and heavy lift vessel Alaed IMO 9574999, dwt 9000, built 2010, flag - Curacao courtesy of GmbH, Mundsburger Damm 45, 22087 Hamburg, Germany

MV Alead.jpg

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