Detained Russian Tanker Belonged To Another Firm During Kerch Strait Incident - Source

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 26th July, 2019) The Nika Spirit tanker, which was detained in Ukraine on Thursday, belonged to another owner during the 2018 Kerch Strait incident, a source in the shipping industry told Sputnik.

The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) said earlier in the day that it had detained the Russian tanker in the port of Izmail in the Odessa region. The Ukrainian side claims that the vessel used to be called NEYMA and was allegedly involved in the Kerch Strait incident that resulted in seizing three Ukrainian vessels by Russia. Later in the day, the Russian Embassy in Ukraine said that the Russian crew - 10 people - had been released and were heading home, while the tanker remained in Ukraine.

"The current owner gained the ship only in February-March. When the detention of the Ukrainian vessels took place, the ship was owned by a company from Volgograd," the source said.

According to the source, the current owner is the Altomar Shipping company, while the former owner was the Volgo-Don Shipping Agency.

The source added that the ship was not operating in 2016-2019 due to vessel's poor condition.

On November 25, 2018, Ukraine's Berdyansk and Nikopol gunboats and the Yany Kapu tugboat illegally crossed the Russian maritime border as they sailed toward the Kerch Strait, the entrance to the Sea of Azov. Russia seized the Ukrainian vessels and detained 24 crew members after they failed to respond to a demand to stop. After the incident, a criminal case on illegal border crossing was opened in Russia.