Putin’s first significant military maneuvers in the Barents on 12 August 2000 were watched by many, not only the Chinese military officials invited but also US submarines in the area and maybe British submarines as well. One of the points was to present the Shkval supercavitation torpedo and obviously to sell it to the Chinese. Supercavitating torpedoes were then seemingly a Russian “asset”, a technology unknown to the West that represented a direct threat to the US domination of seas (especially aircraft carriers).
Some justice has to be made here. It is very clear the hole in the submarine, near the machinery compartment and torpedo compartment at the rear, was made by a torpedo coming from outside.
The image was quickly cut off from journalists who were prohibited from seeing this side of the hull, that had been bailed out by a Dutch company (quite strange in a usually highly protectionist country while there were many other offers, and the sub was only at 108 meters of depth, not so hard to bail out). The movie by Jean-Michel Carré (broadcasted on French TV Fr3 in 2008 – by Thalassa magazine) suggests that the body of one of the officers was found laying dead close to the safe where the codes of the P700 Granit nuclear cruise missiles where stored, with in his hands the key. It also indicates it was confirmed the cruise missiles had nuclear warheads. The fact the Russian government dismissed all army heads that suggested a foreign hand in the event, followed by signs of close cooperations on “arms control” with the newly elected G W Bush (in Dec 2001) and the hiring of a Dutch company for the bail out, together with the fact it is known (thanks to Edmond Pope) the Canadian government had attempted to buy some Shkval torpedoes leads to the quite credible hypothesis that sinking the Kursk was intended at :
- generally, calm down newly elected Putin’s projects for a military rebirth, and
- forcing him to sell to the US through their allies one of their supercavitating torpedoes (or simply to get the Dutch company to take a few ones from the submarine underwater, which is what I think actually happened)
Wprost, a Polish newspaper which is said to be “liberal” by French magazine Courrier international, also published a testimony by Lieutenant Colonel Andreï, a Russian army officer saying Korabelnikov (Russian Army general, head of military intelligence at that time) received a phone call (while Andreï, one of his sergeant majors, was here) according to which “the Americans just sank the Kursk, firing on it”.
This is a very interesting show of brute force that demonstrates one of the known strategies when facing a new foe (here Putin), also used by some teachers of self defence (martial arts) : direct “rise to the extreme” going very very high to try to impress brutally and stop him, imposing your own “hegemony” without actual fight. Showing Putin they were able to have submarines there, sinking a submarine and forcing him at the end to give the new technology. Humiliating him and having him actually to fire the officers not obeying (that pointed at the US) before coming to the US for talks about “arms control”.
This could have left a lasting anger in Putin’s mind and could explain part of the resentment even though of course Russian invasions since 2000 (Georgia, Ukraine) and others militaristic moves are evidently part of a nationalistic enterprise with economic motives (imperialism is always linked to trade) in a very protectionist country.