Pirates and Russian clarity

For those who don’t want to watch, Rossa says:

The video tape shows Russian Navy commandos on a Somalian pirate ship shortly after the pirates had captured a Russian oil tanker. The European Union navy that patrols these waters would not interfere because they feared there could be casualties.

So the Russian Navy Commandos freed their compatriots and the tanker … and then moved the pirates back to their own pirate ship, the Russians searched the pirate ship for weapons and explosives … and found plenty!

Then they left the ship and exploded it with all remaining pirates hand-cuffed to it [no need for] any court proceedings, lawyers, etc. They used the anti-piracy laws of the 18th and 19th centuries where the captain of the rescuing ship has the right to decide what to do with pirates. Usually, they were hanged.

Way to go. When I was in Russia, this sort of approach was the norm in every field. Once I gave English lessons to a mafia wife. They’d send the car, I was left alone with her and they knew nothing would happen, I was driven back. While I was there, she’d be cooking a meal for me.

One day the smell was of liver, which I can’t stand. She asked if it was Ok and the Englishman in me ummed and ahrred as I found the diplomatic thing to say.   She stuck the fork into the pan and lifted out the meat. “Do you want it or not?” It killed me to be so direct but I summoned up the courage and said, “No.”

“Right,” she said, plunging the meat back in the pan, “he can have it this evening. What do you want?”  There was no question of whether or not I wanted something. She’d got me there, therefore I was to be fed, the cost of the lesson a separate matter.  She gave me three choices, I chose, end of story. Imagine saying no to a host over here.

Another situation. I casually mentioned selling my car. My client got on the phone and had a buyer in forty minutes. We all met up at the carpark. I handed over the tech passport and the deal was done.

In Russia, there are two kinds of problems – the ones someone arranges for you, e.g. the government and though there are ways around it, they’re not legal. Then there are the ones I’ve just mentioned. No one has time for umming and ahrring – just say what you want, I’ll say what I’ve got, we then make the deal.

So, pirates take a ship, Russians take it back, pirates are removed, lesson is loud and clear, end of story.


I can live with that approach.

28 comments for “Pirates and Russian clarity

  1. john in cheshire
    January 30, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    James, me too.
    I recall an incident in Lebanon, during the time when the muslims were kidnapping Christians; such as the unctuous Terry Waite. They made the mistake of kidnapping a Russian. As I remember, the Russian Embassy staff found out who had carried out the kidnapping and shortly afterwards a leading figure in that gang was found shot dead, with his balls in his mouth. The Russian was released shortly afterwards. That’s my kind of justice, quick, to the point and everyone knows where they stand, or lie, as the case may be.

  2. James Strong
    January 30, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    The problem of Somali pirates will only be solved by ruthless violence.

    Potential pirates need to know that, if they set out on a mission of piracy, there is a MUCH greater than 50/50 chance that they will die in the attempt.

  3. January 30, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    A friend lives in Russia and has similar stories. There is no messing about over there.

  4. Rossa
    January 30, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    That’s the biggest problem we have in the West. There is no real deterrent so no-one knows the consequences of their actions. I don’t like the idea of the death penalty as I’ve never understood how taking a life from a murderer is any better than the murder itself. Surely that is state sponsored murder.

    However, I do accept that it works as the ultimate deterrent, but only if it is carried out. Problem with States in the US where it is still in force, is the long drawn out process on Death Row. While a perp may think it will be years before they may lose their life is it really humane for people to live with the will I, won’t I die situation.

    As always these things are very complex and like the Dignitas/euthanasia debate it is one that can go round in circles for a very long time. And that also goes to how we extend the life of seriously ill people in a lot of pain. Having just seen the toll on a close friend of losing her brother to a brain tumour aged 46 it is a very hard one to call. We wouldn’t and don’t allow animals to suffer but we are more than capable of doing so to/for our fellow man/woman.

  5. Mary
    January 30, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Not being a Christian, I am a little queasy of cold-blooded murder.

    • January 31, 2012 at 5:52 am

      Just call it ‘pre-emptive self defence’ and you might sleep safer in your bed.

      Well, I certainly will…

    • January 31, 2012 at 8:35 am

      Mary – 🙂

    • January 31, 2012 at 8:54 am

      I’m inclined to agree with Mary here. I have no problem with shooting to kill when carrying out action against pirates. And I certainly support a robust, vigorous campaign of hostage rescue. I would also be happy to see merchantmen armed so as to be able to defend themselves. I lose no sleep for pirates killed while carrying out their illegal activities. However, once they have been captured, they are no longer combatants and should be dealt with according to law – prosecution and a trial. To kill them once they have been subdued, no matter how tempting it is, is murder and is no better than the pirates themselves. There’s a line here and it’s pretty easy to spot.

      We are supposed to be better than them.

      • nisakiman
        January 31, 2012 at 3:28 pm

        Yes, I agree in principle with what you say LR, however in practice the Russian action will certainly give the next boatload of pirates pause for thought when a Russian tanker hoves into view.

        That we are supposed to be better than them is what gives them the upper hand. We see the parallels in UK with the attitudes of urban youth.

        • January 31, 2012 at 4:00 pm

          Everyone’s a barbarian, it’s just that some people pretend not to be.

          • January 31, 2012 at 4:21 pm

            It’s called the rule of law.

        • January 31, 2012 at 4:21 pm

          Yes it will give them pause for thought. The original firm action with pirate casualties would have done that. If we all responded with firm action, taking back hostages and protecting our merchant shipping, then the pirates would always be setting to sea wondering whether they would be coming back. No need for cold blooded murder of captives. Let’s leave that to the waffen SS shall we? Remember, whatever their actions, the pirates do not kill their captives.

  6. Ed P
    January 30, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    A little more such “affirmative action” in the earlier days of Somalian piracy would have stopped it and saved many more lives overall.
    Perhaps the Russians would like to step in and sort out the Falklands for us should Argentina “do it again”? After all, there’s not much hope for Cameron, with our sadly depleted navy, being able or willing to do anything.

  7. Phil
    January 31, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Not sure the Russians killed this lot, I saw a RT vid on you tube where the Russian Navy was in talks with states that border Somalia hoping that they would take 29 pirate taken prisoner when the Russians got there tanker back. Same incident perhaps? That being said I did find some vids where the Russian shot the shit out of a couple of pirate vessels that refused to heave to. One they reduced to match wood the other 20-30 rounds of what looked like 57mm go through the engineering spaces.

  8. Dave G
    January 31, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    To receive civilised clemancy you have to abide by civilised rules. These pirates won’t afford the same clemancy to their captives therefore they die by the sword they lived by. It’s called justice.

    • January 31, 2012 at 10:13 pm

      No, it’s called mob rule; vigilantism. The pirates do not kill their captives, the take them for the ransom.

      As I said earlier, while they are armed and shooting, normal rules of engagement apply – shoot to kill. Once they have been subdued and disarmed, then they should be treated like any other prisoner. The exception in this case being that rather than POWs they are criminals and criminal law should apply.

      Behaving worse than they do is not justice.

  9. January 31, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    I see what you say, LR but we’re back to the Hiroshima argument again, are we not?

    • January 31, 2012 at 10:17 pm

      No, we are not. Not even close. Tackling piracy requires a firm commitment such as the Russians have demonstrated. Up to the point of murder I’m fully behind their actions. There is no need for cold blooded murder to dissuade the pirates from continuing their activities. If they put to sea and end up either killed in action or spending years in a prison cell, sooner or later, they will get the message. It’s the paying ransoms that keeps them coming back for more.

      So, yes, shoot to kill. Sink their ships, raid their encampments and free hostages. But once taken prisoner and disarmed, they are no longer combatants and no longer a threat. Killing them is murder and murder is, rightly illegal.

      • Dave G
        January 31, 2012 at 11:09 pm

        I suppose hacking the arm off a hostage is ‘ok’ then?


        The only reason these pirates DON’T kill their hostages is that they KNOW there would be a shoot-to-kill policy against them. Playing by ‘our’ rules when it serves them (“please don’t shoot us unarmed innocents…”) and their rules (hacking off someones arm!!!!!???) when it suits them.

        Sorry, but has our so-called civilised society degenerated to the extent that the mutilation described above is an acceptable way of being a pirate then?

        • February 1, 2012 at 5:53 pm

          That’s a pretty massive straw man you’ve built there.

          • February 1, 2012 at 10:08 pm

            You mean it never happened? They didn’t do that at the end of the link? It was all made up?

            • February 1, 2012 at 10:21 pm

              The straw man is Dave G’s suggestion that I’m taking a stance that I’m not.

              At no time did I suggest that any piracy is acceptable. What I have said repeatedly is that murder is not. The rule of law should always apply. Even if you are in favour of the death penalty, you follow due process – you know, basic stuff like a fair trial…

  10. Furor Teutonicus
    February 1, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Nothing puts them off piracy like returning to harbour and finding their home base has been napalmed whilst they were playng sailors.

  11. February 1, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    I’m amazed that on this site of all places I have to remind people of this:

    William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

    Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

    William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

    Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

    Sadly, clearly I do.

    • February 1, 2012 at 10:09 pm

      It couldn’t possibly be that you’re missing the point this time, LR? Just asking like.

      • February 1, 2012 at 10:17 pm


  12. Maaarrghk!
    February 2, 2012 at 6:13 am

    I work with the Father of a RN ships Engineer who has served in those waters.

    RN policy is wherever possible to get the Russians involved if they are anywhere near. They then back off and let the Russians get on with it.

    I used to work with a lad who s[pent some time in a French prison – a stinking hole of a place. A recent article I read described how a pirate captured by the French and put in one of these pits was overjoyed to be gettin 3 meals a day, his own toilet bowl and free health care if he got sick.

    A little bit from both sides there.

  13. Just another Albion
    February 2, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    I don’t buy International law, but the one universally agreed was what to do with pirates. Largely it was swift and final.

    However, it got watered down by us because, according to some, our obsession with human rights meant the Somali-scum got a free ride (courtesy of the RN) to the UK where they could claim asylum and then invite the rest of the tribe over to sample the free money.

    Mind you, who would they complain to if they never made it?

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