Fireworks: “Finland has impounded a ship bound for China carrying 69 surface-to-air Patriot missiles. The missiles, produced by US firm Raytheon, were discovered following a customs search on the British-registered Thor Liberty, owned by Danish firm Thorco, at the port of Kotka, about 120 kilometres from Helsinki. The BBC is reporting the missiles were found in containers marked fireworks.”
Finns detain crew: “‘The ship’s captain and the first mate have been detained,’ the head of the Finnish customs anti-crime unit, Petri Lounatmaa, told AFP. … Lounatmaa said the Thor Liberty’s first officers and crew of about 30 were all Ukrainians, and that interrogations were under way.”
German Defense Ministry says shipment was theirs: CNN reports, “A shipment of Patriot missiles that Finnish authorities found and seized was legal and authorized, the German government said Thursday.”
A Germany Defense Ministry official said the missiles, found on board the Thor Liberty, were part of a German delivery for South Korea under a longstanding agreement. … This was to be the last such delivery, said Lt. Col. Holger Neumann. Earlier, a customs official familiar with the case told CNN the shipment departed December 6 from the German port of Emden. “The exporters had all necessary permissions, including an export authorization and a special authorization for the export of war weapons,” the source said.
The Washington Post traced the route of the vessel:
The ship sailed from the north German port of Emden on Dec. 13 and was en route to China, Finnish officials said. It docked in Kotka to pick up a cargo of anchor chains and an old paper machine.
Finnish officials impounded the cargo Wednesday and launched an investigation. Detective Superintendent Timo Virtanen said the ship’s captain and first mate were detained.
“The missiles did not have the appropriate transit papers,” Virtanen said. “We are questioning all the other 11 crew members who are also Ukrainians.”
Klaus Kaartinen, spokesman for the National Bureau of Investigation, said Finnish police and customs would continue their investigation into the cargo.
“Even if the missile cargo is a legitimate shipment, from a Finnish point of view the law has probably been broken because it was not properly declared,” Kaartinen said. “Also, the explosives were stored improperly.”
American-made Patriot missiles are used to counter threats, including aircraft, tactical ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. They are part of the U.S. Army’s weaponry and were extensively used during the 1991 Gulf war.
Manufactured by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in Florida, Patriot missiles have been in service in several countries, including Egypt, Germany, Greece, Israel, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and South Korea.
One possible explanation for this strange story is that a decision was made to supply someone with Patriot Missiles and muddle the trail. In that narrative, the ordnance would be shipped under a cover. But if perchance it were discovered by accident and the cover were blown, then the transporters would have to play their get-out-of-jail card, in this case, a phone number at the German Defense Ministry.
Other explanations are possible, but who knows? We either live in a world of Smart Power where games are played too deep for our ken or in a universe in which more things have been sold out on heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy.
Here, as before, never, so help you mercy,
How strange or odd soe’er I bear myself,
As I perchance hereafter shall think meet
To put an antic disposition on,
That you, at such times seeing me, never shall,
With arms encumber’d thus, or this headshake,
Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase,
As ‘Well, well, we know,’ or ‘We could, an if we would,’
Or ‘If we list to speak,’ or ‘There be, an if they might,’
Or such ambiguous giving out, to note
That you know aught of me: this not to do,
So grace and mercy at your most need help you, Swear.