Crew members of the Russian tanker NEYMA, detained in the Ukrainian port of Izmail by the SBU Security Service of Ukraine, are returning to Russia.
"Now, as was decided by the owner of the vessel, the crew are returning home, to Russia, and the ship remains there [in Izmail]," representative of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Ukraine Denis Golenko said in a comment to UNIAN.
According to him, the ship remains in Izmail for repairs.
He did not give any other details.
As UNIAN reported, the SBU jointly with the Military Prosecutor's Office on July 25 detained the Russian tanker NEYMA, which blocked Ukrainian naval vessels in the Kerch Strait late in November 2018.
SBU investigators have opened a criminal case and are conducting a pretrial investigation into the fact of the blocking by the NEYMA tanker of the Kerch-Yenikale Canal in the Kerch Strait.
As Ukrainian border guards reported, the NIKA SPIRIT tanker flying the Russian flag entered the port of Izmail on July 24. The international information system EQUASIS identified the vessel as the NEYMA tanker by its IMO number 8895528. This was the tanker used by Russians to block the Kerch Strait last November.
The investigation found the tanker had been renamed NIKA SPIRIT to conceal the involvement of the vessel in illegal actions and an act of aggression, which unfolded on November 25, 2018, when three Ukrainian ships and 24 Ukrainian sailors were detained by the Russian side.
A group of the SBU investigators, military prosecutors and border guards completed warranted investigative actions at the detained tanker. They conducted a search to establish the actual circumstances of the case. Records of radio communications for the period of the incident and logbooks were seized.
The crew members were interrogated. The tanker is designated as material evidence in the case. The investigators are now preparing a motion for the seizure of the vessel.