Spooks, Mercs or Merchants over Iceland?

This is a reprint of a post from Arctic Progress.


Back when Iceland tipped over into financial collapse during 2008 and the UK seized Icelandic banks’ assets using anti-terrorist laws as fig cover, Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar stated that Russia could make use of the Keflavik air base in return for a $5bn loan to the insolvent country. However, fevered talk about Russia gaining a military foothold in the Atlantic, including gaining control over the crucial GIUK gap, didn’t end up amounting to anything concrete.

First, Iceland’s status as a NATO member precluded it from offering Russia a true air base in Keflavik; only something like a refuelling and maintenance depot would be allowed. Second, $5bn is not an insignificant amount of money in its own right, being equivalent to about 10% of Russia’s (official) military budget.

But if things couldn’t be worked out with Russia, a private mercenary company would do. Less Red Storm Rising, more Lord of War. TV station Russia Today mailed me a story by Robert Bridge on how Cash-strapped Iceland to host “private army” – and Russian jets. The company, which has a really slick website (and Twitter!), is seemingly flush with cash. They reportedly paid Iceland $160mn to gain rights to Keflavik airbase and plan to acquire 30 Su-27 fighters from Belarus for use in mock war games. If confirmed, this would make it the largest single order for military aircraft by a private investor.

Nonetheless, questions remain unanswered. Are they “mercenaries or market players“? Is their denial of any connections to foreign governments the truth or a smokescreen? Why is BelTechExport, Belarus’ arms export company, denying knowledge of the Su-37 deal that Melville ten Cate, ECA’s Dutch co-founder, has reported as done to the Financial Times? How can they afford the vast costs of buying an airbase, 30 fourth-generation fighters (unit cost: $30mn), and maintenance without the help of a friendly billionaire or foreign government?

In my opinion, there are two other major possibilities.

  • It’s a front company for Russia’s or China’s intelligence services. They have no shortage of cash – and what better way to learn about NATO military tactics or steal military technology than by organizing war games? Though such an operation would be very deniable, how to make sure that the likes of Melville ten Cate don’t go rogue?
  • It is a US military “black project“. In recent years, there has been growing concern amongst Pentagon planners about the proliferation of Sukhoi Flankers and modern IADS to middle-ranked powers like Indonesia or Venezuela, which is beginning to tilt regional power balances away from Western dominance. Providing training and war games for its allies against Russian hi-tech weaponry would be much in Washington’s interests.

What do you think?


  1. Looks like part of the overall push to privatize parts of the American and NATO aerospace industry. It makes sense to train NATO air war personnel in Iceland, a remote place desperate for income, same for Belarus with the planes. Maybe the BRAC people want to sell off valuable real estate in southern California. The companies hire American law firms, do a public offering, capitalize with Americans IRA, 401k, and maybe soon HSA accounts. There’s nothing mysterious here AFAICT.


    • Makes sense, but who is paying for all this? American taxpayers? If this is supposed to be a big secret, then let us hope someone involved will spill their guts on wikileaks!

  2. Mysterious death of Russian military intelligence high-up in Syria

    ishermen found the body of the Russian diplomat on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. Most likely the Russian diplomat drowned while on vacation in Syria.

    He arrived in Syria as a tourist and entered the country with diplomatic passport. He is not the officer of Russian Embassy in Syria, spokesman for the Embassy Andrey Zaytsev told RIA Novosti.

    However, Ivanov is not the only dissident in the commission. Duma deputy Yuri Savelyev also took exception with the official version. The former rector of the St. Petersburg Institute of Military Mechanics, Savelyev was the only member of the commission to be an expert on the physics of combustion and explosions. Last summer Savelyev issued an alternative report that was posted on Pravdabeslana website. This report, based on “testimonials of the hostages, the investigation of the nature and timing of the destruction in the gym, the spent casings from single-shot weapons, photographic records, and using formulas to calculate the strength of the explosions,” concluded that the two explosions inside the gym at 1:03 pm on September 3 were the result of shots from rocket-propelled flame-throwers and RPG-7V1 grenade launchers. According to the report, the shots were made from the five-story House No. 37, located in front of the gym. These shots destroyed the attic of the gym and the burning remains of the roof rained down on the hostages.

    Savelyev’s report also said that other hostages had been killed when tanks shelled the main buildings of the school. The report also argues that the bombs set up in the gym were not linked with each other. A few exploded later as a result of gunfire between the troops and the militants, not because they were activated. This information suggests that the gunmen never planned to blow up the school (see Pravdabeslana.ru, August 28, 2006).

    The official investigation team, as well the leadership of the parliamentary investigative commission, tried to discredit the conclusions of the Savelyev report. Commission chair Alexander Torshin called the report “a deliberate falsification of the data” and “speculation.” Torshin accused Savelyev of “playing political games.”

    Nevertheless, the Mothers of Beslan and the Voice of Beslan, two organizations formed by relatives of the dead hostages, agreed with the Savelyev report and ignored the official report of the Commission, which was accepted by the State Duma on December 24. Inspired by Ivanov’s later statement, the relatives appealed to the parliament of North Ossetia, asking them to discuss the Savelyev report. Savelyev agreed to present his report in the Ossetian parliament if the deputies asked him to come (Kavkazky Uzel, January 21).

    The parliament of North Ossetia refused to discuss the report, saying that everyone should wait for the results of the Russian Prosecutor’s Office’s official investigation, which is still underway. In response, Ella Kesaeva, the leader of the Voice of Beslan, accused the Ossetian deputies of cowardice.

    The alternative Savelyev report and Ivanov’s statement could seriously damage Kremlin’s efforts to portray the rebels in the North Caucasus as terrorists. Moreover, the independent investigation on Beslan now has taken a different turn with this new revelation and strongly supports those who argue that the Russian war on terror in the Caucasus is not a clear-cut matter.

    • Oh, pu-leeeze! Give me a freaking break! Anybody who uses the torture of the Beslan children to try to score points against Russian commandos (who may have made a couple of mistakes, but still rescued most of the children and teachers) and Russian government (who made painful choices but did the right thing) — is a pathetic terrorist-loving soulless creature of darkness. Yes, I am talking about you, Oleg, whoever you are. If I weren’t an atheist, I would wish you to fry in hell forever for your smarmy pro-Basaev insinuations.

  3. http://arthurzbygniew.blogspot.com/2010/03/soros-co-back-wikileaks-kosher-mob-oval.html
    “It is also believed by informed sources that Soros is behind the operation to move Wikileaks to Iceland. By becoming a power in Iceland, Soros can prevent Icelanders from paying back the British and Dutch investors in Icelandic online Ponzi scheme banking and continue his all-out war against British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who has, in turn, targeted Soros for betting against pound sterling.
    Iceland is classic prey for Soros. The Icelandic krona has been decimated as a currency and has no where to go but up in value, especially if the British pound and the euro depreciate. Soros is currently talking down the euro, planning its fall and shorting it, just like he did versus the pound in London in the 1980s. After the UK’s and Europe’s currencies are devalued, Soros will buy every euro note in sight, thus making trillions.
    Soros and his Wikileaks friends have in Iceland a practically unregulated banking system desperate for an influx of capital — money that will come from the exiled Russian tycoons in Israel, London and the United States. Israeli investors like Bank Leumi, and awash in siphoned-off Bernard Madoff cash, will do their bit for this smash-and-grab operation by Soros’s Quantum-linked hedge funds.
    With Wikileaks firmly ensconced in Iceland, the “brave” and much-heralded information leakers will run an international blackmail operation against Soros’s foes and launch computer break-ins against Soros’s business rivals and non-Quantum banks. Wikileaks will be used as the info-hitmen against President Obama’s and Rahm Emanuel’s enemies in the 2012 re-election campaign.
    From Iceland, Soros will be well-positioned to gain control over the massive mineral resources under the melting ice sheet of Greenland. Under the ice are the only major rare-earth deposits outside of China and with such minerals at his disposal, Soros can control the world’s electronics industries. This past week’s volcanic activity in Iceland could, however, disrupt or destroy Soros’s plans to establish and control a North American-European gateway in Iceland.”

    • Are you saying that Soros is financing Wikileaks?? I didn’t know that. Ugh! That might change my opinion of Wikileaks, because I had believed them to be honorable heroes.

      • I’m not sure it’s a good idea to dismiss something just because it’s funded by shady characters. Money doesn’t smell when it comes with no strings attached.

        Unlike Berezovsky, I don’t see Soros as all that sinister. Some billionaires use their money for charitable causes (B. Gates), others for pro-capitalist propaganda (Koch brothers), others for exercises in vanity (Abramovich). Soros prefers to play political and geopolitical games, both in the US and Eastern Europe.