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Ukraine Seizes Russian Oil Tanker In Confrontational Move

Kerch Strait Landsat

In a move sure to bring tensions in the region to the boiling point, Ukraine today seized a Russian oil tanker which allegedly had its name changed to avoid recognition of involvement in the violent incident between Ukrainian and Russian ships in the Sea of Azov last year.

Ukraine’s security services said on Thursday they had detained a Russian oil tanker that had blocked in November Ukrainian warships near Crimea, drawing reaction from Russia which vowed ‘consequences’ should Russians aboard the tanker be taken hostage, reported Oilprice.com.

On Thursday, Ukraine’s security service seized Russian tanker Neyma, which Ukraine believes took part in the incident in the Kerch Strait near Crimea in November 2018.  

Today, Ukraine said that it believes that the Neyma was the same ship with a changed name that took part in the seizure of the Ukrainian ships in November. The investigation found that the Neyma tanker changed its name to Nika Spirit to conceal its involvement in the “illegal acts and an act of aggression that took place on November 25, 2018,” Ukraine said.

The crew of the Russian tanker detained in the Ukrainian port of Izmail are returning home but the vessel will remain in Ukraine, a spokesperson for the Russian embassy in Kiev told Russian state news agency TASS on Thursday.

“The crew members are heading home but the vessel remains in Izmail,” he noted.The SBU added that a group of investigators and military prosecutors had searched the tanker with court permission, seizing documents, logbooks and radio communication recordings made during the incident. The tanker’s crew were questioned, added TASS.

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