Russia Asks: Cui Bono? Suspicious Doesn’t Even BEGIN to Describe the Attack on the Tankers!
Now, let's get to one of the main topics of our program.
In the Gulf of Oman, fire fighting actions on the attacked tankers are still being taken. Politicians and military experts are trying to figure out who can be behind that attack. Without a second thought, American media claimed that it all points towards Iran. However, it was the U.S. Navy ships that were the first to come to the attacked ships. Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary for the president, has stressed today that Russia calls upon its partners not to make hasty conclusions. Who benefits from the attack?
Alexander Khristenko tried to figure that out.
Two huge tankers are engulfed in flames. Black smoke plumes are visible dozens of miles away in the Gulf of Oman near the coast of Iran. The Kokuka Courageous ship, owned by a Japanese company, was carrying methyl alcohol to Singapore. Bainbridge, an American destroyer, which turned out to be nearby helped evacuate the crew of 21 people. The second vessel attacked is the Front Altair tanker. It's owned by a Norwegian company and was transporting oil to Taiwan. There were 23 people on board, all of them were evacuated by the Iranian coast guard. There were 11 Russians, 1 Georgian, and citizens of the Philippines as well.
Andrey Ganenko, public relations officer of the Russian embassy in Oman: "With the help of the Iranian colleagues, the ambassador contacted the captain of the ship, who turned out to be a Russian citizen, Shishkin Yury Anatolievich. They're in the port's administration in Jask now. They're fine".
Both incidents took place in the morning with a difference of an hour, almost in the same place — 28 miles off the Iranian coast. It indicates that the attacks were coordinated. On a Japanese ship, explosive devices could have been detonated. The Norwegian tanker, judging by the nature of the damage, could have come across a mine or was torpedoed.
Yutaka Katada, Kokuka Sangyo CEO: "Initially, we were told that our tanker was struck with a projectile. After that, apparently, another ship was attacked, and our tanker began to maneuver. Three hours later, it was attacked again. It was too dangerous to stay on board, and the crew members left the ship in a lifeboat".
The attacks on tankers instantly led to nervousness in global markets. In a few hours, oil grew by 4%. After all, everything happened in the strategically important Gulf of Oman. Its narrowest part, the Strait of Hormuz, is the key to the global energy industry. One-third of the global oil supplies and 80% of Asian ones pass through this narrow strip of water just 33 miles wide. Subtracting the territorial waters of the neighboring states of the UAE, Oman, and Iran, there are only two transport passages 1-2 miles wide left. There are always lots of ships carrying various cargo. It's unknown who's behind the attacks on the tankers. The investigation is underway. But the U.S., though unofficially, is already pointing the finger at its eternal enemy — Iran.
John Kirby, military analyst: "It's hard not to make hasty conclusions. But this incident has obvious signs of actions of the Navy of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. That's the way they do. They're capable of such actions. If I'm not mistaken, we already know that they're responsible for the last attack in the UAE".
Kirby is mistaken. Similar attacks on four ships occurred in this region a month ago. Then the U.S. and Saudi Arabia immediately suspected Iran, but no evidence was ever presented. It was reported only that the ships were attacked either with mines or by UAVs filled with explosives.
Sergei Ryabkov, Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia: "We've been recently witnessing the intensifying campaign of political, psychological, and military pressure on Iran. We wouldn't like the events that have just happened, which are tragic and that shook the global oil market to be speculatively used to further exacerbate the situation in an anti-Iranian manner".
In any case, Iran, to the coast of which two American aircraft carriers rushed yesterday, is clearly not interested in attacking ships and exacerbating the situation. Especially when the prime minister of Japan was received at the highest level in Tehran.
"The attacks on Japan-related tankers occurred while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was meeting with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for extensive and friendly talks. Suspicious doesn't begin to describe what likely transpired this morning".
Abe conveyed a message from Donald Trump to Khamenei. But the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic said that he considered the U.S. President a person who doesn't deserve a response.
Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran: "Trump isn't worthy of us exchanging messages with him. I'm not going to reply to him now nor in the future. I don't believe that his intentions to start negotiations are sincere. I think that he lied when he said that he didn't want to change the regime in Iran".
Sincerity is a very rare trait among American officials, the Iranian leader added. Iran is already under the most severe US sanctions. But Trump obviously will not let such claims in his address pass without reply. The world will see a war of words at the very least. In the current situation, it's the lesser evil for sure.
Alexander Khristenko, Nikolay Koskin for Vesti from Washington, U.S.A.