Posted on July 26, 2019 by Ilias Kiritsis
The Russian-flagged Oil Tanker, NIKA SPIRIT was detained by Ukrainian Forces on July the 25th, in what Russian authorities call “an act of state-sponsored piracy”.
The incident occurred as the Russian tanker arrived in the Ukranian port of Izmayil. The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) proceeded to detain the vessel on arrival, allegedly, due to the ship’s involvement in the November 2018 blocking of the Kerch Strait.
The SBU said in a statement to the press, that it has seized documents, radio communication logs and logbooks from the vessel, following an interrogation of its crew.
According to SBU, the investigation has revealed that the vessel is the NEYMA; one of the tankers used in the Kerch incident. Ukrainian authorities believe that the vessel changed its name in order to conceal its involvement in the blockade.
According to a statement by Ukraine, the Neyma was used alongside other Russian Naval Forces in order to prevent the Ukrainian Navy from moving through the strait. During the incident, the Russians arrested a number of Ukrainian Navy personnel; both acts in clear violation of the maritime legislation that regulates transits through the Kerch Strait.
All 15 seafarers aboard the Nika Spirit are believed to be Russian nationals.
After intense pressure from Russian authorities, Ukraine has released the seafarers back into Russian custody.
Image Courtesy of Marine Traffic