Putin admits secret sub was nuke powered

14 sailors killed in Russian submersible fire

The incident is the worst since 20 people died on a Nerpa nuclear submarine in 2008.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to Putin Thursday that the vessel's nuclear reactor wasn't damaged by the fire and would be put back in service following repairs.

Details remained scarce about the fire and the ship, which was on a mission to measure sea depths in Russia's territorial waters in the Barents Sea.

The vessel is now at the Arctic port of Severomorsk, the main base of Russia's Northern Fleet.

Those missions were not specified, but Russian Federation is in an worldwide race to stake territorial claims in the Arctic, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas and other minerals.

The ministry said in a statement that the fire was extinguished thanks to the crew's self-sacrifice.

The submarine's captain was named in some Russian media as Denis Dolonsky, and memorial posts on social media from Dolonsky's friends confirmed he had died aboard and was a captain first rank. In 2018, the commander of United States European Command informed the US Congress that undersea Russian activity was its highest since the 1980's Cold War period. Three were captains of the second rank, two were captains of the third rank, and two had been awarded the order of "Hero of Russian Federation", the highest possible military order in Russian Federation.

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In August 2000, the Kursk submarine sank in the Barents Sea, killing all 118 on board.

Putin added: "It is not an ordinary vessel, as we know".

Another spy sub, the Project 09852 Special Mission Submarine KC-139 Belgorod, was launched at the Sevmash Shipyard in Severodvinsk in northern Russian Federation in April.

A report by the Drive drew attention to the fact that the official newspaper of the Russian Ministry of Defense, Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star), attached a hitherto unseen drawing of the newly developed Belgorod submarine, a version of the Oscar II-class submarine, to a report on the submarine disaster. It seems rather unusual that such high-ranking officials would have been on a scientific mission to study the sea floor off of the northern coasts of Russian Federation and Norway, as the Defense Ministry has claimed.

Russia's Tass news agency reported that the officers were linked to the Russian military's top-secret Chief Directorate for Deep Water Research, known as GUGI. Analysts suggested that one of its possible missions could be disrupting communication cables on the seabed. The defense ministry said it had been conducting research to study the ocean depths and that the fire broke out when it was carrying out a "bathymetric measurement", which maps the sea floor.

Moscow says it is fully compliant with the INF treaty negotiated by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, which eliminated the medium-range missile arsenals of the world's two biggest nuclear powers.

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