Ukraine releases Russian tanker crew

Ukraine has released the crew of a Russian tanker which had been detained in the port of Izmail, but the vessel remained under the control of the Ukrainian authorities, the Russian embassy in Ukraine has said.

Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) said on Thursday July 25th that it had detained a Russian tanker for its alleged involvement in the seizure of three Ukrainian vessels by Russia in November. Moscow immediately threatened that there would be “consequences” if Russian citizens were “taken hostage”.

The SBU said on its Facebook page that its investigation had revealed that Russia’s Federal Security Service and Border Guard Service used the tanker Neyma (IMO 8895528) to “illegally block the movement of the Ukrainian naval vessels Nikopol and Berdyansk, and the military tug Yani Kapu, in the Kerch Strait” before illegally detaining Ukrainian sailors and the three vessels.

The SBU said that the tanker, which has since changed its name to Nika Spirit, was seized by Ukrainian authorities after it arrived under the Russian flag at the Ukrainian port city of Izmayil on the Danube River on July 24th.

All 15 crew aboard the tanker were understood to be Russian.

Russia’s human-rights commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova said that the crew was released without being charged and that they would travel to Moscow via Moldova.

1989-built, Russia-flagged, 2,868 gt  Neyma is owned and managed by Altomar Shipping Ltd of Krasnodarskiy Kray, Russia.