"We felt impotent during this whole disaster": what Putin said to Clinton about the destruction of the Kursk submarine

"We felt impotent during this whole disaster": what Putin said to Clinton about the destruction of the Kursk submarine
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6 October , 09:11
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The Clinton digital library website published a transcript of the 2000 talks between Bill Clinton and Vladimir Putin last summer, but the document came to the attention of the Russian media only recently. The most interesting moment in it is the conversation about the sinking of the Kursk submarine.

Novye Izvestia examined the file - it contains 225 pages; on page 60, a conversation of September 6, 2000 is recorded.

We are publishing a translation of this part of the conversation between Putin and Clinton.

Bill Clinton: I am sorry about everything that you had to go through because of the Kursk sinking. When something like this happens, people around the world imagine themselves in the place of the victims and their relatives, but I also imagined myself in your place. You have probably faced a lot of criticism. It always happens. After Oklahoma City, many asked if the building was well defended and if we had allowed terrorists into the country. So my heart was with the people at the bottom of the sea, and with everyone else too.

Vladimir Putin: I didn't have a good choice in this situation. I was trapped between bad and worse options. Some people told me that if I put a small submarine in there right away and even tried to save the guys, my ratings would go up. You shouldn't be allowed to do something like that for the sake of PR. We must give priority to the real salvation of people. I appreciate your sincere support. Oddly enough, subsequent polls showed that this incident did not affect my situation. But I am very afraid that something like this could happen again.

Bill Clinton: Now we are working in a different environment. If a building blows up in Moscow, it seems to affect our relatives. Or if people in Mozambique are forced to climb trees to escape flooding ... In many ways, this is good. It reminds us that others are people too. After that, it's harder to hate. But sometimes it’s difficult for a leader to do the right thing because of all these strong feelings.

Vladimir Putin: We felt impotent during this whole disaster. Now it looks like the entire crew died within 60 or 90 seconds. We could not tell our relatives, but there was a hole in the hull about two meters in size, through which the first three compartments of the submarine flooded. I don't even know how we can get the bodies out. There is a lot of cod in these waters - there may be no flesh on the bones. We tried to slow down all this hype, but some people are weird and they just kept fueling it. It's just a fact of life".

Photo:https://clinton.presidentiallibraries.us/items/show/100505

let us recall the disaster on the nuclear submarine missile-carrying cruiser K-141 "Kursk" occurred on August 12, 2000. According to official data, one torpedo exploded on the submarine, after which the rest were detonated. Several compartments were destroyed, as a result of which the submarine sank. There were 118 sailors and officers on board, all of whom died.

Officially, the Russian authorities acknowledged the death of 118 sailors only 10 days later - on August 22. Prior to that, Vladimir Putin publicly stated that everything possible was being done to save the crew. At the same time, according to Mediazona, the head of the government commission to investigate the causes of the accident, Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov, argued that the authorities learned about the death of the entire crew on August 14.

“The ex-commander of the submarine flotilla, Vice Admiral Oleg Burtsev, in August (2000) spoke about the progress of rescue operations during the disaster. He said that the crew members lived for another four to five hours after the destruction of the air regeneration system”, - writes RBC.

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