The owner of the Crimean vessel “Nord” detained two days ago by Ukrainian State Border Guards at the Azov Sea sent a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia pleading for help.
As the Russian news agency Interfax reports, based on a copy of a document it possesses, the owner of the vessel, the Fishing Kolkhoz (communal economy) named after the First of May from the City of Kerch (Crimea), asked Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov “to help ensure safety of Russian citizens and uphold property rights of a Russian company.”
“We consider actions of the State Border Guarding Service of Ukraine unlawful and dangerous for the life and safety of the citizens of Russia, and, therefore, we ask to take quick actions to return the Nord vessel and its crew to its anchor port in Kerch,” Interfax wrote, citing the letter from the fishing company.
According to the reports, Ukrainian State Border Guards detained the vessel with 10 Russian citizens aboard, including captain Vladimir Gorbenko, whom the Ukrainian border guards prepared to transfer to Kherson.
According to Interfax, the vessel’s owner also sent a letter asking for help to the Council of Ministers of Crimea, which is annexed by Russia and controlled by the Kremlin.
So far, the Russian MFA has not provided any official comments on the situation.
On March 25, the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine detained a fishing boat in the waters of the Azov Sea sailing under the Russian flag. The Prosecutor’s Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea opened a criminal investigation into the Nord vessel sailing from the Kerch sea port closed by the Ukrainian authorities for use in the Russian-annexed Crimea.
The Kremlin’s proxy, the Prime Minister of Crimea, stated that the authorities of the peninsula “engaged in an action to ensure the return of the vessel.” At the same time, the Ukrainian State Border Guards denied having any contacts with Crimean pro-Russian authorities regarding the Nord vessel.
Starting from July 2014, the government of Ukraine officially sealed off all ports of the Russian-annexed Crimea, and since then, all harbors of the peninsula have remained closed for international shipping.
However, in a period from August 1, 2017 to January 31, 2018, a total of 591 ships broke the order and anchored at the closed ports of Crimea.