The beluga whale suspected of spying for Russia was seen off Sweden after leaving Norway (Reuters)
Russia is accused of training a spy who appeared in Swedish waters in recent weeks. As is well known, every activity by Vladimir Putin and his army in the West has been viewed as suspicious since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and this includes the "underwater special forces" revealed to be operating by the Kremlin - following the discovery of Vladimir, the "Russian spy" found in Sweden.
However, the Vladimir is not an ordinary spy, as he is actually a young beluga whale. As ridiculous as it sounds, the mammal, whose name is the Norwegian version of the Russian leader's name and also the English bread of Leviathan and Vladimir, is allegedly the product of training animals for combat purposes in Russia.
Vladimir was reportedly trained by the Murmansk Institute for Marine Biology Research, a fact that came to light after a Russian state-controlled television station admitted that the military had tried to train whales, dolphins and seals as early as 2017. Although such a training camp has never been widely confirmed, the report indicated that beluga whales such as the Valdimir were trained to guard the entrances to Russian naval bases, "assist deep-water divers and, if necessary, kill any aliens who entered their territory."
Not only in the Arctic were signs of increased use of Russian marine mammals — in 2018, Black Sea Fleet dolphins were deployed for several months near Russia's Mediterranean naval base in the Syrian port city of Tartus — according to satellite images.
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spy dolphin The Waldimir was first spotted swimming off the coast of Norway by fishermen in 2019, when his passion for more interaction with humans led to suspicion and raising "red flags." He was discovered wearing a special harness equipped with a GoPro camera mount and clips that read in Russian "St. Petersburg Equipment."
A beluga whale suspected of being a "Russian spy" was filmed playing rugby at sea (Facebook:Alonkowen)
Suspicion of the spy whale has now risen again when, last week, OneWhale, which has spent years tracking the Valdimir, noticed that the normal movements of the beluga whale from Norway's far north were rapidly accelerating out of the country's territorial waters. The BBC reported that after spending years swimming slowly south from Norway's far north, the whale has suddenly accelerated its movements out of Norwegian waters in recent months, and OneWhale admits that the reason behind its sudden haste is unclear.
One theory is that the whale, which was lonely and malnourished, escaped from a marine pen and was taken to a Russian submarine base specializing in underwater research and secret operations in the Barents Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean north of Norway and Russia. However, marine biologists do not rule out the possibility that it simply has high hormone levels and is busy trying to find beluga whales for mating.
Russia has a history of training dolphins for defensive purposes, including clearing underwater mines and protecting military sites and ships from the threat of enemy divers. The Russian government first began investigating the military uses of marine mammals at Sevastopol naval base back in Soviet times.
The nagging question remains: Is the Valdimir harmless and just accidentally escaped from its Arctic training pen – or is it still on active espionage duty?
Does Israel also use spy dolphins and killer sharks?
In 1976, the CIA reported that efforts were being made by the Soviets to train dolphins to place "packages" such as surveillance devices and explosives on ships. It appears that Boris Jourid was the one who trained and cared for the animals, and it is claimed that he taught them how to attack enemy divers, but when the project ran out of money, Russia was forced to sell them to Iran in 2000.
However, the project may have resumed after Fawcett appeared on a Russian government procurement website and offered $21,000 for a shipment of five dolphins in perfect health — but the fate of the request is unknown.
Like Russia, other militaries, including the United States and Ukraine, are known to have explored ways to use mammals as guards, spies, trackers and even weapons. It is not known how successful or progressive each of these programs has been, but even Israel has been accused of participating, with conspiracy theories about animals being used militarily in Israel numerous times in the media and on social media, usually by officials in Islamic countries alleging Israel's use of wild animals to attack civilians and for espionage purposes.
Common examples of accusing Israel of using animals for military purposes are:
The shark attacks in Sharm el-Sheikh – a series of shark attacks caused by sharks along the Red Sea coast, near the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh in 2010. These attacks resulted in the death of one woman and three casualties. Egyptian television interviewed the governor of South Sinai, Mohammed Abdul Fadil Shusha, who claimed that Israeli divers who had left Eilat had come to the resort town, caught a shark and placed a GPS chip implanted on its back.
In 2013, Hezbollah claimed to have arrested a number of eagles allegedly spying for the State of Israel. They claimed that the eagle was one of many birds sent by Israel to spy and collect information through GPS transmitters throughout the Middle East. The eagle captured and handed over to Hezbollah was a young hawk eagle and Israeli ornithologist Yossi Leshem said he had been monitoring the bird for research and was "very frustrated" that it had been killed. "Unfortunately, this bird made the stupid mistake of moving to Lebanon," he said at the time. A rare drowned eagle from Gamla custody that was captured by the Syrian opposition and initially suspected of carrying electronic spy devices was returned to Israel on September 5, 2017, as a gesture in recognition of the medical treatment Israel provided to Syrians. During the Civil War.
- In December 2012, a Sudanese newspaper reported that the Sudanese government had captured an eagle in western Darfur that they said had been tagged in Hebrew, equipped with electronic devices and used for espionage. Ohad Tzofa, a bird ecologist in the Nature and Parks Authority's science division, said at the time that it was a young eagle that had been tagged, along with 100 other eagles, and that it had two wing straps and a German-made GPS chip. He denied that the device had photographic capabilities, and in an interview with CNN, he said, "I'm not an intelligence expert, but what can we learn from placing a camera on an eagle? You can't control it. It's not a drone you can send wherever you want. What would be the benefit of watching an eagle eat the insides of a dead camel?"
Israel has also been accused of using dolphins as spies. The first time Israel was accused of employing spy dolphins was on August 19, 2015, when Hamas' Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades claimed to have captured a dolphin carrying a camera and other spy equipment off the coast of Gaza. Iran's Fars News Agency claimed at the time that it was not a dolphin, but "an Israeli-made robotic dolphin equipped with intelligence devices, including video cameras. Israel does not stop at a violent war against Gaza," said a spokesman for Al Quds newspaper. "Now it recruits an innocent sea animal, the dolphin, known for its good relations with humans, to kill the sea forces of the Qasim Brigade." The IDF did not respond to the accusations, but Foreign Policy magazine noted that while "dolphins are used by many militaries around the world, including the United States and Russia, the current claim apparently joins the realm of conspiracy theories: the repeated claim that Israeli intelligence agencies use all kinds of birds and other animals as espionage tools." Still, in January 2022, a spokesman for the al-Qassam Brigades claimed in a video message that Israeli security forces had recently once again used a dolphin to chase Hamas divers off the coast of Gaza.
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