Russia Clams Up Over Cheonan Sinking

      July 07, 2010 09:23

      Russia will not announce an official position on the sinking of the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan, it emerged Tuesday. Moscow sent three torpedo and explosion experts to South Korea and analyzed findings of an international probe from May 31 to June 7 and was expected to announce its official position early this month.

      A Foreign Ministry official said the Russian experts will eventually finish drawing up a report and submit it to the Russian government, but it seems Moscow "has no plan to make any announcement about it."

      There is speculation that Russia decided to delay the announcement while the U.S. and China are at odds over the sinking at the UN Security Council.

      The UNSC has been unable to reach any conclusion because China is declining to point the finger of blame at North Korea. If Russia endorses the findings of the international probe that the Cheonan sank due to a torpedo attack from the North, Russia would have to join the U.S., the U.K., and Japan, which support South Korea's position, against the North, a long-term ally.

      If it remains noncommittal, Russia could face criticism that it is standing up for a rogue state, as China already does. Its best course of action may be to postpone any announcement until the UNSC takes action against the North.

      Russia, a UNSC permanent member, is not as openly supportive of the North as China, but it is not criticizing the North for attacking the Cheonan either. Russia joined the other G8 countries in a joint communique on June 26 condemning the sinking, but it opposed the idea of pointing directly at the North as the culprit.

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