Ukraine Seizes Russian Tanker In Black Sea, Frees Crew

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Ukraine has alleged that the Russian tanker took part in a November confrontation in the Kerch Strait. The 10-member crew was allowed to leave Ukraine as it had not taken part in the incident last year.

Ukraine has seized a Russian tanker in the Black Sea, alleging that it was used in an operation to block Ukrainian vessels from sailing through the Kerch Strait, the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) said in a statement on Thursday.

The SBU said it stopped the Russian vessel Neyma upon entering the port of Izmail, located in the southwest Odessa region of Ukraine.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry warned Ukraine against taking any hostages.

“If Russians are taken hostage, this would be interpreted as the crudest violation of international law, and consequences will not be long in coming,” a ministry spokesperson said.

On Thursday, the 10-member crew was allowed to disembark and leave Ukraine as they were not involved in the November incident, Russian human rights ombudswoman Tatyana Moskalkova said.

The SBU said the Russian vessel was used to block three Ukrainian warships in the Kerch Strait during a naval confrontation last November.

The Russian ship’s name was subsequently changed to Nika Spirit, which the SBU said was done to “conceal” its “involvement in illegal acts.”

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