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Ukraine detained tanker from Taganrog, allegedly involved in the Kerch Strait incident

July 25, 2019: The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) detained tanker "Nika Spirit" (also known as "Neyma") from Taganrog, claiming it was involved in the Kerch Strait incident earlier in 2018. It was allegedly used to block the movements of Ukrainian war ships that violated Russian restrictions in the Sea of Azov and Articles 19 and 21 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. On November 25, 2018 two artillery boats and a tugboat belonging to the Ukrainian Navy crossed the Russian sea border and entered a closed area of Russian territorial waters, attempting to penetrate into the Sea of Azov without any warning. All three Ukrainian naval vessels were subsequently captured by the Russian Border Guard.

The tanker "Nika Spirit" was identified in Izmail by Ukrainian border guards as "Neyma" and was arrested as "a real evidence". This vessel was searched, SBU officials seized documents, logbooks and radio communcations recordings. All tanker's crew members were questioned by Ukrainian intelligence officers.

Neyma tanker (port of registry - Taganrog)

"We are looking into the circumstances of the incident before taking proper measures. If this amounts to taking Russians hostage, this will be qualified as a blatant violation of international law, and consequences will not be long in coming", - stated the Russian Foreign Ministry.

According to the most recent reports, the crew members of the tanker from Taganrog have been released and are heading home, while the ship remains detained in the port of Izmail (Odessa region).