The report of Russian experts investigating the cause of the Cheonan sinking, is nearly finished, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Moscow.
Andrey Nesterenko, a spokesperson for the Ministry said, “The Russian experts who were given access (to information about the Cheonan) are finishing up their final report. The report shall be submitted to the national leadership, and then Russia will be able to take whatever measures it needs to take.”
Russia has thus far kept neutral on the Cheonan incident, claiming that it can decide what to do only after their experts have reached a conclusion. Now the Russian experts are finishing up their report, Russia’s position on UN Security Council sanctions is gaining import.
However, Russia’s Interfax news agency has reported that the Russian investigation team has not found any evidence confirming North Korea’s guilt, implying that the final Russian report may run contrary to the findings of the joint investigation team.
The South Korean government reached its own conclusion based on the following evidence: the recovered torpedo propeller and drive shaft; a torpedo plan in a weapons export catalog produced in North Korea; the fact that chemical residue left on the torpedo propeller matches that detected on the hull of the vessel; ‘Number one’ written on the propeller; and the fact that a number of North Korean submarines disappeared from port on the day the ship sank.
However, while agreeing that the Cheonan was sunk by a torpedo, the Russian investigation team may wish to question how South Korean intelligence obtained the catalog, and could conclude that there is a lack of direct evidence of North Korean guilt. Russia has traditionally been wary of western society, and may instinctively prefer to side with North Korea.
The Russian investigation team consisting of four experts on submarines and torpedoes arrived in Korea on May 31st, and returned to Russia after examining the sinking evidence.