The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) announced on July 25 that it had detained Russia’s Nika Spirit (Neyma) tanker at the port of Izmail. The SBU claimed that the tanker was used to block the movement of Ukrainian Navy ships during the Kerch Strait incident.
“The Ukrainian Security Service and Military Prosecutor’s Office have detained Russia’s Neyma tanker that blocked the movement of Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait,” the statement reads. “A pre-trial investigation made it clear that Russian FSB border guards had carried out an act of armed aggression against Ukraine’s Nikopol and Berdyansk warships and the Yany Kapu tugboat in the Kerch Strait at the direct order of senior FSB officials,” the SBU claimed.
The Ukrainian side claimed that the Nika Spirit tanker flying the Russian flag was identified at the port of Izmail through its IMO number and the Equasis information system as the Neyma tanker that had been used to shut the Kerch Strait.
Ukrainian security forces searched the tanker seizing documents, radio communication recordings made during the incident and logbooks. The tanker’s crew members were questioned.
The SBU said that the tanker “has been recognized as real evidence, investigators plan to request a court to arrest it.”
The developments with the tanker demonstrate that the government of newly-elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is not going to provide a course really different from those of Petro Poroshenko.
Despite formal remarks regarding the need of the ceasefire regime with forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine, and at least a formal de-escalation with Russia, little real steps have been made in this direction.
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