[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 8 August 2005, 10:10 GMT 11:10 UK
Dismay at state of Russian navy

The Russian papers' elation at the happy outcome of the mini-submarine drama off Kamchatka is tempered by dismay that the country's navy still has lessons to learn five years after the Kursk disaster.

"Not our victory," says a headline in Moskovsky Komsomolets.

"The English Scorpion came to grips with the problems of the Russian fleet in a matter of hours," the paper says.

It notes that news bulletins on Sunday rang out in unison: "They are alive!" and "They are saved!" The stricken sailors' "underwater epic" has ended in success.

"Total victory. But total defeat as well," the paper says.

In the five years since the Kursk disaster the Russian navy has been unable to create an effective rescue service

"After all, the Russian fleet has nothing in particular to be proud of. Except of course the fact that, after the Kursk tragedy, they have at least learned not to decline the help of foreign naval personnel, whom hitherto they deemed as potential foes."

Izvestiya likewise has no doubt as to what influenced the outcome.

"Scorpio to the rescue," it says.

"The decisive factor in saving the crew was the inclusion in the operation of British and American naval personnel, who were able to rapidly deploy a deep-sea submersible."

The paper quotes an unnamed source at the Defence Ministry as saying the decision to allow US and British naval personnel in the area was taken "at the highest level".

"Tragedy was only averted by a miracle," it says, adding:

"The Russian fleet still has much to do, so that the personal valour of its sailors is backed up by appropriate technical and organisational resources, and their lives stop being loose change in the planning of combat readiness."


The language in Nezavisimaya Gazeta is even more scathing.

The causes leading up to the emergency must be thoroughly examined, it says.

"But," it goes on, "it is clear even now that the main reason behind it was the sloppiness of our military."

Secret maps showing the nets that snagged the vessel were not made available to the crew. But for the timely intervention of the British, "a situation similar to the Kursk tragedy could have been repeated".

The same paper adds that, contrary to media reports saying the British and Americans will not exact payment for their part in the rescue, some cash will no doubt change hands.

"And we shall all end up paying the price for the shoddiness of our navy," it concludes.

Vedomosti is no less blunt in its assessment:

"In the five years since the Kursk disaster the Russian navy has been unable to create an effective rescue service."

While on the pages of Kommersant, it is Defence Minister Sergey Ivanov himself who comes in for some ironic criticism.

"Sergey Ivanov arrived at the scene to save his submariners just as the British rescuers succeeded in freeing the vessel from its snares," the paper says.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.

Russia's rusting navy
23 Mar 04 |  Europe

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific