The idea to write to Putin was pitched as the relatives of the missing submariners gathered at the Mar del Plata naval base on January 1, to hear the latest from Navy officials.
“We learned from the media about Putin’s interest in the fate of the San Juan and ventured to ask him to [continue the search],” Luis Tagliapietra, a member of an initiative group of relatives, told Sputnik.
“On behalf of the families and relatives of the 44 submariners we, are asking you not to call off the search operation until the San Juan has been found, even though we are fully aware of the amount of effort needed to do this and the humanitarian nature of this operation,” reads an excerpt from the letter obtained by the Argentine news agency Telam.
Luis Tagliapietra said that the idea to write to Putin had been proposed by the mothers of several missing sailors, who wrote the text and collected signatures of the relatives. Tagliapietra, for his part, will hand the letter to Russian consulate officials in Buenos Aires, who will subsequently communicate it to President Putin.
“Each day we are asking our president [Mauricio Macri] to continue the search, but the government keeps mum, ignoring us. That’s why we are asking the Russian president [to help us],” Luis said.
On December 27, the US Atlantis oceanographic research vessel left the area where the San Juan is believed to have disappeared, with Argentine naval vessels the ARA Sarandi and the ARA Islas Malvinas, as well as the Russian research ship Yantar continuing the search for the missing sub.
“It’s been 48 days since the crew disappeared. I don’t know if they are alive or not. All I know is that we must find them. I don’t understand how, with all the technology and logistics we have today, they can’t find a 66-meter-long submarine with a crew of 44 hands on board. They must be found, no matter what,” Tagliapietra emphasized.
The ARA San Juan, with a crew of 44, stopped responding during a routine patrol in the South Atlantic on November 15, shortly after reporting a fire on board.