Russia threatens Ukraine with a 'strong response' over the detention of the Nord vessel crew

Russia demands that Ukrainian border guards allow the crew members of the detained fishing vessel "Nord" to go to the annexed Crimea via Russia.

A statement released by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: "We demand that the bullying of Russian citizens be stopped and demand that they are given an opportunity, finally, to return freely to their homes, their families. Our patience has limits. We reserve the right to respond strongly.”

"Coercing people to take Ukrainian nationality and making it impossible to freely leave Ukraine flagrantly violates fundamental human rights, contradicts civilized norms of international relations,” the statement also said.

On March 25, a patrol boat of Ukrainian border guards detained the fishing vessel Nord, flying a Russian Federation flag in the Sea of Azov. The vessel is registered by Russia in the annexed Crimea. On March 30, the Ukrainian court arrested the Nord vessel. On April 2, the ship’s captain, Volodymyr Horbenko was indicted for "the violations of entry and exit from the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine.”

On April 6, the Kherson city Court selected a preventive measure for Horbenko in the form of detention with bail set at 35,249 hryvnia ($1,400 USD). The court also fined all 9 crew members.

On the night of April 8, the vessel’s crew attempted to leave the territory of Ukraine by motor vehicle through the Hoptivka crossing point. During inspection, border control discovered that that the crew members of the Nord vessel detained in the Sea of Azov are Ukrainian citizens who showed certificates for return to the Russian Federation, that is, documents that do not give rights to cross the border, instead of passport documents.

Since Ukrainian citizens did not have proper documents to cross the border, they were not allowed to cross the border.

On April 19, early in the morning, two of the crew left for Belarus using Russian citizen documents. Later, border guards stopped the other 7 crew members of the Nord from boarding a flight to Minsk. They showed the same documents of Russian citizens but the border guards confiscated them and drew up a report on another attempt to illegally cross the state border of Ukraine. The two crew members who managed to leave have already arrived in the annexed Crimea.

  Nord vessel, Russia, Ukraine