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The future of Russia’s fleet and where nuclear submarines go to die

A look at the dangerous arctic graveyard where Russia dismantles nuclear reactors




Russia is known for her nuclear submarines. Russia operates the largest submarines ever built, the Typhoon (Akula) class, which dwarf the competition.

Image result for typhoon class submarine

Sadly, for those who like massive things, as humans have always had an interest in the extravagant, the Typhoon class is scheduled to be replaced by the Borei-class.

Image result for Borei-class submarine

For now, the aging typhoons will still operate, however, the smaller, modern Borei class will eventually retire them.

Perhaps even more impressive is the Yasen Class, touted as Russia’s “most advanced multipurpose watercraft”, according to Sputnik.

Related image

The Yasen Class impressed US Rear Adm. Dave Johnson, Naval Sea Systems Command’s  executive officer so much, he had a model built of it in front of his office. Listen to how he described the lead ship of the class, the Severodvinsk:

We’ll be facing tough potential opponents. One only has to look at the Severodvinsk, Russia’s version of a [nuclear-guided missile submarine] (SSGN). I am so impressed with this ship that I had Carderock build a model from unclassified data. Source: USNI news

With that in mind, Russia’s nuclear submarine fleet seems to have a bright future. That being said, that also means the older submarines will need to be decommissioned very carefully. Their nuclear reactors are not exactly something you send to the junkyard, it will be decades before they are even safe to fully dismantle. Ever wonder where they go? Russia Beyond the Headlines (RBTH) published an excellent article on where nuclear submarines go to die:

Where do nuclear submarines leave their “hearts”?

For years, a storage site for Russian nuclear submarine reactor sections beyond the Polar Circle had been known as one of the world’s most dangerous places and terrified the whole of Europe. However, timely German assistance helped to significantly minimize the potential risks.

Heritage of the Cold War era

After the Soviet fall, Russia inherited a great number of nuclear weapons, such as strategic bombers, ICBMs and nuclear-powered submarines. To reduce the high nuclear threat to the world, Russia and the U.S. launched several initiatives to cut their nuclear arsenals.

Under one such initiative, the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program, widely known as the Nunn–Lugar Act, the U.S. provided Russia with money, specialists and equipment to ensure effective nuclear demilitarization.

Still, dismantling a nuclear-powered submarine is no easy task. Besides the radioactive fuel and waste, the heart of the nuclear-powered submarine – its nuclear reactor – must be carefully removed.

Heart of the submarine

Due to its radioactive danger, the reactor can’t just be dumped. It is usually removed together with the section in which it is located in the submarine. This section serves as a container to prevent radioactive activity on the part of the reactor.

After the reactor section has been cut out, it is transported to a special storage where it is kept for at least 70 years. Only after this period is the radioactive level sufficiently low to allow the dismantling process to continue.

The first Russian storage for nuclear reactor sections was sited beyond the Polar Circle, in a bay near the village of Sayda Guba in the Murmansk Region. In 1990, the settlement was transferred to the Northern Fleet, which then used it to store reactor sections from its “retired” nuclear-powered submarines. Sections were cut out at special facilities and then towed to Sayda Guba bay for storage.

One of the most dangerous places on Earth

The problem was that there was no specially designed place where these dangerous reactor sections could be kept. They just accumulated in the bay and floated around the docks.

According to the initial plan, the storage was due to be constructed within a decade. Yet come 2003, no storage had been built, and there was not even a construction plan. Meanwhile, the number of reactor sections in the bay surpassed 50.

European countries raised concerns that the poor and improper conditions of the reactor sections storage at Sayda Guba could not only harm the Arctic environment, but also lead to a real nuclear disaster in Northern Europe.

From words to action

In the early 2000s, Europeans and Russians activated cooperation in reducing the potential threat of Sayda Guba. In 2003, the Russian Ministry for Atomic Energy and the German Federal Ministry for Economics and Labor signed an agreement on the construction of a coastal storage for reactor sections of nuclear submarines.

Germany invested over $700 million in the project during 15 years. The country also provided Russia with technologies and specialists.

As a result, by 2017 the land-based storage for 155 reactor sections was built. A new clearing and painting workshop was set up to renew the anticorrosive surface of the reactor sections. Such important procedure has to be done once every decade over a period of 70 years.

Not only that, Sayda Guba got a railway system, new docks and all necessary infrastructures for workers at the complex. The ecological situation in the region has significantly improved.

Governor of the Murmansk Region Marina Kovtun called the Russian-German Sayda Guba project a unique example of international cooperation in nuclear decommissioning, not just for the Murmansk Region, but for the whole Russia as well. “Without Germany’s assistance such large-scale works at Sayda Guba would have taken much longer,” she said. (link in Russian)

Do you know there is a place in Russia even more dangerous than Chernobyl? Find out where it is.


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Photos of swastika on Ukrainian mall stairway creates a stir [Video]

Ukrainian nationalist press in damage-control mode to explain away the Nazi sign, but they forgot the name of the street the mall is on.

Seraphim Hanisch



One of the aspects of news about Ukraine that does not make it past the gatekeepers of the American and Western news media is how a significant contingent of Ukrainian nationalists have espoused a sense of reverence for Nazis. The idea that this could even happen anywhere in the world in an open manner makes the claim seem too absurd to be taken seriously. Gone are the days when the Nazi swastika adorned streets and buildings in Europe. Right?

Well, maybe, wrong.

This was seen in Kyiv’s Gorodok (or Horodok, if you insist) Gallery, a shopping center in that city, located on Bandera Avenue.

The pro-nationalist news service UNIAN wasted no time going to press with their explanation of this incident, which admittedly may be accurate:

Children and teenagers who participated in the All-Ukrainian break dance festival held in the Kyiv-based Gorodok Gallery shopping mall were shocked to see a swastika image projected onto an LED staircase.

The mall administration apologized to visitors, explaining saying that their computer system had apparently been hacked.

“The administration and staff have no relation to whatever was projected onto the LED-staircase, and in no way does it support such [an] act. Now we are actively searching for those involved in the attack,” it said in a statement.

According to Gorodok Gallery’s administrative office, it was not the first time a cyber breach took place.

As reported earlier, Ukraine is believed to be a testing ground for cyberattacks, many of which are launched from Russia. Hackers have earlier targeted critical energy infrastructure, state institutions, banks, and large businesses.

This time, it appears, hackers aimed to feed the Kremlin’s narrative of “Nazis in power in Ukraine” and create a relevant hype-driving viral story for Russian media to spread it worldwide.

The Gorodok Gallery also apologized on its Facebook page and said that this was a result of hacking.

But what about the street that the mall is on? From the self-same Facebook page, this is what we see:

To translate, for those who do not read Ukrainian or Russian, the address says the following:

23 Steven Bandera Prospekt, Kyiv, Ukraine 04073

This street was formerly called “Moscow Avenue.” Big change, as we shall see.

Steven Bandera got his birthday designated as a national holiday in Ukraine last December. He is known in Ukraine’s history for one thing. According to the Jerusalem Post:

The street where the shopping mall is located is named for Stepan Bandera, a Ukrainian nationalist who briefly collaborated with Nazi Germany in its fight against Russia.

His troops are believed to have killed thousands of Jews.

Several Israeli papers picked this bit of news up, and of course, the reasons are understandable. However, for the West, it appears possible that this news event will largely go unnoticed, even by that great nation that is often called “Israel’s proxy”, the United States.

This is probably because for certain people in the US, there is a sense of desperation to mask the nature of events that are happening in Ukraine.

The usual fare of mainstream news for the West probably consists of things like “Putin’s military seizes innocent Ukrainian sailors in Kerch incident” or, “Ukraine’s Orthodox Church declared fully independent by Patriarch of Constantinople” (not that too many Americans know what a Constantinople even is, anyway), but the overriding narrative for the American people about this country is “Ukraine are the good guys, and Russia are the bad guys,” and this will not be pushed aside, even to accommodate the logical grievance of Israel to this incident.

If this article gets to Western papers at all, it will be the UNIAN line they adhere to, that evil pro-Russia hackers caused this stairway to have a swastika to provoke the idea that Ukraine somehow supports Naziism.

But UNIAN neglected to mention that the street name was recently changed to Stephan Bandera (in 2016), and no one appears to have hacked this. Nor does UNIAN talk about the Azov fighters that openly espoused much of the Nazi ideology. For nationalist Ukrainians, this is all for the greater good of getting rid of all things Russia.

A further sad fact about this is the near impossibility of getting assuredly honest and neutral information about this and other similar happenings. Both Ukrainian nationalists and Russian media agencies have dogs in the race, so to speak. They are both personally connected to these events. However, the Russian media cannot be discounted here, because they do offer a witness and perspective, probably the closest to any objective look at what is going on in Ukraine. We include a video of a “torchlight march” that took place in 2017 that featured such hypernationalist activity, which is not reported in the West.

More such reports are available, but this one seemed the best one to summarize the character of what is going on in the country.

While we do not know the motive and identities of whoever programmed the swastika, it cannot really be stated that this was just a random publicity stunt in a country that has no relationship with Nazi veneration.

The street the mall is on bears witness to that.

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Putin: If mid-range missiles deployed in Europe, Russia will station arms to strike decision centers

Putin: If US deploys mid-range missiles in Europe, Russia will be forced to respond.





Via RT…

If the US deploys intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Moscow will respond by stationing weapons aimed not only against missiles themselves, but also at command and control centers, from which a launch order would come.

The warning came from President Vladimir Putin, who announced Russia’s planned actions after the US withdraws from the INF Treaty – a Cold War-era agreement between Washington and Moscow which banned both sides form having ground-based cruise and ballistic missiles and developing relevant technology.

The US is set to unilaterally withdraw from the treaty in six months, which opens the possibility of once again deploying these missiles in Europe. Russia would see that as a major threat and respond with its own deployments, Putin said.

Intermediate-range missiles were banned and removed from Europe because they would leave a very short window of opportunity for the other side to decide whether to fire in retaliation after detecting a launch – mere minutes. This poses the threat of an accidental nuclear exchange triggered by a false launch warning, with the officer in charge having no time to double check.

“Russia will be forced to create and deploy weapon systems, which can be used not only against the territories from which this direct threat would be projected, but also against those territories where decision centers are located, from which an order to use those weapons against us may come.” The Russian president, who was delivering a keynote address to the Russian parliament on Wednesday, did not elaborate on whether any counter-deployment would only target US command-and-control sites in Europe or would also include targets on American soil.

He did say the Russian weapon system in terms of flight times and other specifications would “correspond” to those targeting Russia.

“We know how to do it and we will implement those plans without a delay once the relevant threats against us materialize,”he said.

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Russia’s Lukoil Halts Oil Swaps In Venezuela After U.S. Sanctions

Under the new wide-ranging U.S. sanctions, Venezuela will not be able to import U.S. naphtha which it has typically used to dilute its heavy crude grades.




Litasco, the international trading arm of Russia’s second-biggest oil producer Lukoil, stopped its oil swaps deals with Venezuela immediately after the U.S. imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry and state oil firm PDVSA, Lukoil’s chief executive Vagit Alekperov said at an investment forum in Russia.

Russia, which stands by Nicolas Maduro in the ongoing Venezuelan political crisis, has vowed to defend its interests in Venezuela—including oil interests—within the international law using “all mechanisms available to us.”

Because of Moscow’s support for Maduro, the international community and market analysts are closely watching the relationship of Russian oil companies with Venezuela.

“Litasco does not work with Venezuela. Before the restrictions were imposed, Litasco had operations to deliver oil products and to sell oil. There were swap operations. Today there are none, since the sanctions were imposed,” Lukoil’s Alekperov said at the Russian Investment Forum in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Another Russian oil producer, Gazprom Neft, however, does not see major risks for its oil business in Venezuela, the company’s chief executive officer Alexander Dyukov said at the same event.

Gazprom Neft has not supplied and does not supply oil products to Venezuela needed to dilute the thick heavy Venezuelan oil, Dyukov said, noting that the Latin American country hadn’t approached Gazprom Neft for possible supply of oil products for diluents.

Under the new wide-ranging U.S. sanctions, Venezuela will not be able to import U.S. naphtha which it has typically used to dilute its heavy crude grades. Analysts expect that a shortage of diluents could accelerate beginning this month the already steadily declining Venezuelan oil production and exports.

Venezuela’s crude oil production plunged by another 59,000 bpd from December 2018 to stand at just 1.106 million bpd in January 2019, OPEC’s secondary sources figures showed in the cartel’s closely watched Monthly Oil Market Report (MOMR) this week.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for

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