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March 23, 2004
Russian Nuclear Fleet Collapsing?

A Russian admiral ordered a nuclear cruiser back to port today, warning that the Northern Fleet was on the verge of collapse and that this cruiser might suffer a nuclear explosion:

The flagship of Russia's northern fleet has been ordered back to port as it is too dangerous to be at sea, says Russia's naval commander-in-chief. Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov said the nuclear cruiser Peter the Great "could go sky high at any minute". ...

"In those places on board where the admirals actually go, everything's fine, but where they don't go, everything's in such a state it could go sky high at any minute," he said. "And by that I also mean the state of the nuclear reactor.

"It is this attitude to the upkeep of their ships on the part of commanders that is leading to the collapse of the fleet."

While the BBC speculates that this could just be a ploy to wrest more funding for naval maintenance from Russia's federal government, it points out a potentially dangerous instability in Russia's infrastructure at the same time that Islamofascists are pressuring Putin from the south. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, it's been no secret that the armed forces have been put on a starvation diet, which the US didn't mind a bit, at least at first. But if Kuroyedov isn't just posturing for political effect, it not only means that there are several potential nuclear meltdowns sailing the North Sea and beyond, but that the Russian armed forces may not be all that far away from a complete collapse.

Our pursuit of Islamofascists in the Caucasus and the surrounding areas is somewhat predicated on Russian strength in the area, acting as a sort of anvil against our hammer. If the anvil goes away, it would not be all that difficult for al-Qaeda to disappear into the underbelly of the Russian state, and while Vladimir Putin may not be an enemy, he certainly won't allow US troops to operate freely in Russian areas.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 23, 2004 5:29 AM

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