Tommorow is indeed the Kursk day – it was on August 12, 2000 that the proud but unfortunate submarine sunk after an explosion on board during exercises in the Barents Sea. This picture of its crew (from a BBC documentary) marks a moment of remembrace.
It is rather striking that on the eve of this day, Russian Defence Ministry proudly reported that a US submarine was found lurking in the Barents Sea – and duly chased away.
It is even more striking, that on the same day President Putin held a video conference with the off-shore platform West Alfa in the Kara Sea and praised cooperation with Exxon Mobil (“our old and reliable partner“) that made it possible to start drilling for oil in those difficult waters. This performsance was important in demonstrating that the sanctions were not disrupting joint projects, but in fact, Rosneft has good reasons to be very worried.
In Moscow, the policy-makers apparently do not see a conflict between assertive statements on building military presence in the Arctic and pledges to cultivate cooperation. The Kursk tells a different story.