News Briefs – July 8, 2019


14 sailors killed in submarine fire laid to rest in Russia

The 14 Russian seamen who died in a fire on one of the navy’s research submersibles earlier this week were laid to rest in St. Petersburg on July 6.
The sailors were killed in the blaze on the unnamed submarine in the Barents Sea on July 1. Officials withheld details of the tragedy, citing the utmost secrecy of the vessel’s mission.
The Defense Ministry said the sailors were killed by toxic fumes from the fire. Some others survived the fire but the military hasn’t said how many. Officials didn’t name the nuclear-powered vessel, but Russian media reported that it was Russia’s most secret submersible, the Losharik.
The 14 seamen were buried at a cemetery in St. Petersburg, which was cordoned off by the military. Media weren’t allowed to attend a vigil at the local church or the burial which was attended by top military officials and naval officers.
Journalists were able to visit the cemetery after the ceremony was over. The 14 fresh graves were dug out next to the resting places of some of the crewmembers of the Kursk submarine, which sank during naval maneuvers in 2000, killing all 118 seamen onboard in Russia’s worst submarine disaster.
Some of the relatives of the 14 seamen stayed on at the cemetery plot, putting up candles or sharing a moment of silence with friends and family. AP

Jury sentences Navy SEAL for posing with Iraq war casualty

A decorated Navy SEAL acquitted of murder in the killing of a wounded Islamic State captive in Iraq but convicted over posing with the corpse was given a demotion by a military jury July 3 after the Bronze Star recipient acknowledged making ethical and moral mistakes.
Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, 40, was also handed the maximum penalty for the offense of four months in confinement, though he will serve no jail time because it is less than the time he spent in custody before the trial.
After the court announced the sentence includes a reduction in rank, Gallagher turned to his wife, shook his head and pretended to unpin his “anchors” — the insignia of a chief — and fling them across the courtroom. He then smiled and hugged her.
The sentence will not go into effect until it is approved by the commanding officer overseeing the court-martial.
Gallagher’s lawyers said they plan to appeal the punishment that will affect his pension and benefits just as the 19-year veteran plans to retire from the service.
Earlier, Gallagher addressed the jury that acquitted him July 2 of premeditated murder in the death of the captive and attempted murder and other charges in the shootings of civilians during a 2017 deployment to Iraq. He also was cleared on charges of impeding the investigation and retaliating against the SEALs who reported him.
The platoon chief told the jury he was fully responsible for his actions on the day he took photos with the body of the 17-year-old militant. AP

NATO sees no sign of Russian complying with missile pact

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says Russia is showing no sign of respecting a major Cold War-era missile treaty.
Following talks with the Moscow’s envoy less than a month before the pact expires, Stoltenberg said July 5 that “we didn’t see any sign of Russia being willing to come back into compliance” with the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union.
In February, Washington began the 6-month process of withdrawing from the pact, blaming Russia for developing a missile that does not comply with it. The treaty will end unless Russia destroys the missiles by Aug. 2.
The Pentagon says Russia’s SSC-8 ground-fired cruise missile falls within that range and could allow Moscow to launch a nuclear strike in Europe with little or no notice. AP