Could the Lady R saga have been a hoax to ease the way for Putin’s trip to Africa?
by GEOFF HILL
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – MANY years ago, I caught up in Brussels with some fellow scribes. Lunch morphed to cocktails and it was midnight before I got back to the hotel.
Old friendships are the best.
This was long before the trouble in Ukraine, but one of the writers had covered the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) since 1990 and she told me about their worries that any move by Moscow to remake the Soviet Union could end up in a world war, complete with nukes.
One way to stop this was to arm and fund the old republics including those like Ukraine which are not in NATO. Money and weapons but no boots on the ground, much the way Russia and the US did during the Cold War.
In eastern Europe, she said, there were lots of AK 47s left over from the Soviet era and Africa had plenty of AK ammunition from its many wars. One idea the NATO boffs toyed with was to buy this up.
“So did they do it?” I asked.
“The plan was still-born,” she said. “Too many leaks.”
Of course, she was right. Keeping anything secret in the era of cell-phones and social media is a task. So gathering millions of bullets from half-a-dozen countries under the gaze of Russian spooks and the ever-prying media would be nuts.
TO RUSSIA WITH LOVE
I’d forgotten about the conversation until news broke of the Lady R and allegations that South Africa loaded weapons onto the ship. “To Russia with Love.”
But if NATO came so quickly to the truth that smuggling ammo from Africa could not be done in secret, why would the ANC take the risk? And, with no disrespect to South Africa, what do we have that Russia might need and couldn’t find a lot closer to home?
Time to have some journalistic fun!
I’m not given to conspiracy theories, but what if this was a hoax to make sure that when Vladimir Putin attends the BRICS meeting in August, the US and its allies are still so embarrassed by their gaff, they won’t make a fuss.
Picture this. Pretoria and Moscow agree to dock the Lady R at Simons Town, followed by a whole lot of crane-work by night with just enough light for neighbours to catch a glimpse.
Before long you have a “Watergate” that doesn’t hold water!
There’s a simple rule in news: if the story looks too good to be true, it usually is. Tough stuff takes days, months, even years to research. And here we have a scandal that turns up ready to print, albeit with no evidence … or none that’s been shown.
Cyril Ramaphosa’s pledge to investigate — instead of the usual delay by government anywhere in the world — adds to my suspicion that Pretoria knows there was nothing naughty on the boat.
Surprise and diversion are as old as conflict, from the Trojan Horse to the D-Day landings when the Allies convinced Berlin the invasion would happen elsewhere. And Hitler believed it, to his cost.
Government always leaks. The truth will be out. And my money says NATO was right about the risk of buying AK rounds from Africa. Way too dicey.
Russian foreign policy has always been heavy on paranoia, so why would they not have reached the same conclusion?
Was this really, “Weapons of mass distraction.”
Planned or not, it certainly worked that way.
Of course I have no evidence to back any of this. But for now, it seems, neither does anyone else.
Geoff Hill is a Zimbabwean author and journalist who has worked on all six continents.
– CAJ News