Once, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia’s borders don't end anywhere. This phrase has become a kind of description of the revanchist doctrine the Kremlin has been pursuing for the sixth year already. Moreover, this doctrine not only covers neighboring countries, such as Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and others, but also extends as far as Latin America, including Venezuela, Colombia, etc.
In turn, few people emphasize that Russia has no less ambitious views on the Arctic than it does on Ukraine or any other country that the Kremlin plans to once turn into its property in one form or another. And Russia is not standing still in this issue, instead working on building up the potential of its Arctic troops, setting up bases and military infrastructure across the region, creating equipment and weapons capable of functioning properly in low temperature conditions.
And, most interestingly, the tragedy that unfolded on July 1 on the top-secret AS-12 "Losharik" submersible could signal precisely of Moscow's plans to expand control in the Arctic zone and create a direct threat to such countries as the United Kingdom and Norway.
On July 6, officers who died on the AS-12 were buried in St. Petersburg in conditions of top secrecy. At the same time, it was during the vigil that Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, Andrei Kartapolov, declared that the late crew members literally "saved their comrades at the cost of their lives and didn't allow a planetary-scale disaster." A number of Russian media outlets noted that the Losharik crew saved the world from another "Fukushima".
Perhaps this meant that the officers laid their lives, fighting the fire and preventing its spread to the nuclear reactor. At the same time, there is also a version that Russians are simply trying to confuse and mislead the public, creating "information noise", because amid the reports on the funeral, Russian political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky noted that the Defense Ministry allocated as much as $3 million for a media campaign to conceal the true causes of the AS-12 accident and the nature of its mission in the Barents Sea.
In particular, this could be a sabotage mission or an operation preparing one. After all, the information noise that we are now seeing in the Russian media could one way or another be part of the truth.
For example, if we list the versions sequentially, could the Losharik be working out interaction with various weapon systems, imitating the not-yet-existing Doomsday weapon, the Poseidon project, with its carriers (BS-136 "Orenburg" submarine or BS-64 "Podmoskovye" submarine)? Of course, it could!
Could the Losharik be working out penetration and wiretapping of underwater civilian and military communication cables or placing the elements of the Russian "Harmony" positional underwater surveillance system (the analog of the U.S.-made SOSUS) and placing on the seabed equipment intended to counter SOSUS? Of course, it could!
And most importantly, could the AS-12 be working out the mining of marine infrastructure of a potential adversary? Of course it could, especially given the fact that, against the backdrop of the tragedy with the nuclear submersible, other stories were recalled, especially from the recent Russian past, for example, of mining Norway's oil infrastructure.
And here, how could we forget the reports that were spun internationally in April this year with a hint of humor, although in reality it was an extremely alarming and serious marker of what is happening in the Barents Sea.
They were about Norwegian fishermen in the country's waters off Finnmark getting across a beluga whale with a GoPro camera strapped around its neck. It is noteworthy that belugas, ideally suited to life in the Arctic, are a favorite object of experiments conducted by the Russian Navy's General Directorate for Deep-Sea Research), the one to which the officers killed in the AS-12 accident were assigned.
Wow, what a coincidence! But, no less a coincidence is also the fact that Russia, just like the Soviet Union once did, seems to be using beluga whales, dolphins, seals, and killer whales for sabotage operations, in particular, mining of important objects and infrastructure.
Therefore, the accident at the AS-12 is not only a marker of the depressing technical condition of the Russian fleet, but also a signal telling the world that Russia continues to implement its aggressive plans both in relation to the Arctic Council member states and all other neighbors in the maritime zone, and possibly farther on.