The Security Service of Ukraine detained on July 25 a Russian tanker NEYMA, which took part in November 2018 in the blocking of Ukrainian warships in the Kerch Strait. As a result, Russia captured 24 sailors and captured three ships of the Ukrainian Navy – “Nikopol”, “Berdiansk” and “Yani Kapu”.
The tanker was detained after it entered the Ukrainian port of Ismail.
Investigators of the SSU carry investigation on the fact of Russian aggression in the strait. In absentia, 15 officials of the highest military leadership of the Russian Federation, including one rear Admiral, two Vice-admirals and a Colonel-General, were reported suspected.
On July 24, Ukrainian border guards received information about the entry into the port of Izmail of a tanker “NEYMA” under the new name “NIKA SPIRIT” under the flag of the Russian Federation. SSU reported that change of the name was made by owners for the purpose of concealment of participation of the vessel in aggression.
The tanker was searched, documents, records of radio messages during the conflict and logs were seized. The tanker crew was also questioned. The detained vessel is recognized as material evidence, a petition for its arrest is being prepared.
SSU published a photo of the detention of the tanker.
Later a video was released.
On board the tanker there were at least seven Russian citizens. Their nautical books were published on Facebook by the Chief Military Prosecutor of Ukraine Anatolii Matios.
Meanwhile, the source of "RIA News" says that the number of crew can reach 16 people.
Reaction of Russia
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russian said that they clarify the circumstances of the incident: "If we are talking about the capture of Russians as hostages, it will be qualified as a gross violation of international law and the consequences will not take long."
Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs Vladimir Jabarov called the detention to be illegal. According to him, this significantly worsens the prospects for establishing bilateral relations: "If Kyiv wants to improve our relations a little, it must immediately release the tanker."
Later the company- shipowner of the detained tanker declared that the crew of the vessel is safe and goes home. However, the Russian Embassy in Kyiv did not confirm this information.
Soon the captain of Izmail Port Mikhail Tikhonov declared that seamen from the Russian tanker that were detained by SSU, were released. They took the obligation to appear for questioning when summoned by the investigator. This fact does not prevent them to leave Ukraine, since the sailors are witnesses in the case. The ship itself remains in Izmail.
It is known that in November 2018, the tanker "NEYMA" ran aground in the Kerch Strait, which is why Ukrainian ships could not reach the port of Berdiansk. But later it turned out that the tanker made way for 3 Russian ships. Realizing that the Russians deliberately block the Ukrainian fleet, the Ukrainian Navy decided to return their ships to their home base in Odessa.
The tanker "NEYMA" and tugs "Fast", "Gandvik" and "Eltigen" participated in blocking the ships. All ships are owned by company "Uvas-TRANS". The founders of this firm are Yaroslav Anatolievich Naroditsky (65%), Anatolii Leonidovich Naroditsky (25%) and Oleg Vladimirovich Vasenko (10%). All three of them live in Kerch. Anatolii Naroditsky and Yaroslav Naroditsky are also the founders of many companies in Russia and Ukraine. According to volunteers of the international intelligence community InformNapalm, "Uvas -TRANS" is engaged in smuggling and systematically violates the sanctions regime against the Crimea.
According to the decree of the President of Ukraine dated March 19, 2019, economic sanctions were imposed on the company "Uvas -TRANS" for three years. The company is the owner of the Kerch shipyard, where at the time of blocking the Kerch Strait the tanker was located, and it also carried out pilotage of ships.