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25 Jul, 2019 12:19

‘An act of piracy’: Moscow slams seizure of its tanker, says Ukraine should think of ‘ramifications’

‘An act of piracy’: Moscow slams seizure of its tanker, says Ukraine should think of ‘ramifications’

Officials in Moscow have said that Ukraine, which has seized a Russian tanker, has acted like a pirate, and urged Kiev to think of how the act could affect the release of its own sailors, currently imprisoned in Russia.

Ukraine “should think of the consequences” after its security service (SBU) detained the Russian-flagged tanker ‘Nika Spirit’ (also known as ‘Neyma’), the Russian foreign ministry told media on Thursday.

However, if Russian nationals “were taken hostage” by Ukraine, “it would amount to a grave violation of international law, and ramifications will follow shortly,” it added.

Several hours later the Russian embassy in Ukraine announced that “the crew is heading home, while the vessel remains in Izmail,” a port city in southwestern Ukraine. The Russian Foreign Ministry then said that ten sailors from the Neyma had safely left Ukrainian territory.

The SBU explained the release by saying that the Russian sailors “didn’t violate maritime law or Ukrainian legislation, therefore there were no grounds for their detention.”

Meanwhile, senior Russian lawmakers labeled the incident “an act of piracy” and accused the outgoing Kiev government of staging “a provocation.” Konstantin Zatulin, a high-ranking member of the State Duma’s committee in charge of post-Soviet states, told the media the detention will damage already-strained relations between Moscow and Kiev.

By doing what it has done, Ukraine will be “nowhere close” to achieving the release of 24 sailors currently on trial in Russia for an alleged violation of maritime borders during last year’s Kerch Strait incident.

Also on rt.com Ukraine seizes Russian tanker allegedly blocking its ships in Kerch Strait

The ‘Nika Spirit’ was detained by the SBU earlier in the day as she sailed to Izmail for refurbishment. Kiev maintains the ship was blocking the passage of Ukrainian warships during a mid-sea encounter in the Kerch Strait last November. Ukrainian law enforcement officers carried out a search and seized documents from aboard the tanker. They also questioned the crew before letting them go.

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