A new video that surfaced on Twitter on Sunday appears to depict a fire raging dangerously close to five Russian diesel-electric attack submarines near the city of Vladivostok. The Russian government has publicly dismissed the video as footage of a pre-planned “damage control exercise,” though some are questioning the veracity of those claims.
The Kremlin is no stranger to misrepresenting what would otherwise be embarrassing missteps involving military assets. In September of last year, video taken during Russia and Belarus’ large scale military exercise dubbed “Zapad” clearly seems to show a Russian KA-52 helicopter opening fire on a group of journalists and civilians. Despite the dramatic footage, Russia’s official statement was that even suggesting that such a thing could occur was “purposeful provocation or someone’s personal stupidity.”
The Kremlin claimed that no one was injured in the incident, though internal media outlets within the Russian nation reported that a number of people had to be hospitalized for serious injuries following the rocket attack.
It’s not just historical precedent that has some questioning the veracity of Russia’s claims that Sunday’s fire was a controlled exercise. In the footage, the fire appears to be approaching the five Kilo-class diesel submarines with no significant effort being made to stop it. The fire itself appears to get close enough to at least one submarine to cause damage the coating on its outer hull.
“Exercises to extinguish a fire on the pier using imitation were conducted on the territory of the connection of the Pacific Fleet submarines among the personnel… The personnel coped with the [fire] excellent.” The Kremlin’s official statement read.
The color and thickness of the smoke rising from the flames seems to suggest a diesel fire, which happens to be the fuel utilized in the five submarines moored nearby. This could potentially support the idea that the fire was (at least started) as a part of a training exercise, though it stands to reason that it could also have resulted from a refueling accident, or potentially that the submarine closest to the fire may have a leak in a fuel tank.
Vladivostok serves as Russia’s largest port, as well as the home of Russia’s Pacific Fleet. The five submarines situated near to the fire account for nearly all of the Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines assigned to the Northern Fleet, and it seems unlikely that Russia would be willing to put them in such direct danger for the sake of a fire drill.
Watch the video below:
Image courtesy of YouTube