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Ukraine arrests and seizes foreign vessel on Danube for entering occupied Crimea

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Ukraine arrests and seizes foreign vessel on Danube for entering occupied Crimea

A foreign maritime vessel has been seized in the waters of the Reni port in Odesa Oblast for illegally exporting agricultural products through the closed maritime ports of Russia-occupied Crimea and placed under arrest.

Source: Prosecutor General’s Office

Quote: „The vessel USKO MFU was seized during its passage through the waters of the port of Reni and, based on a court ruling, has been placed under arrest. 

During a search of the vessel, the ship’s documentation, AIS system, a computer and documents issued by the occupation administration of Sevastopol Marine Trade Port were seized. 

The captain of the USKO MFU, a citizen of Azerbaijan, has been served with a notice of suspicion for violating the procedure for entering and leaving the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine.

The vessel’s captain.
Photo: Prosecutor General’s Office

The issue of selecting a pre-trial restriction measure for the suspect and transferring the arrested vessel to the management of the State Property Fund of Ukraine (ARMA) is being decided.“

Details: Ukrainska Pravda said the vessel USKO MFU, sailing under the Cameroonian flag, was seized last week.

A vessel.
Photo: Prosecutor General’s Office

Investigators noted that the USKO MFU violated Ukrainian legislation and international maritime law in November 2023 by entering and leaving the closed Ukrainian port in Sevastopol. The vessel was loaded with over 3,000 tonnes of agricultural products intended for a Turkish company.

The vessel had its Automatic Identification System (AIS) turned off before entering the port of Sevastopol to conceal its illegal activities, which is a flagrant breach of maritime safety requirements. 

The vessel re-entered the closed port of Sevastopol with the AIS system turned off and unloaded cargo from Türkiye at the end of May 2024. The vessel then departed from the port, indicating its destination as Istanbul.

However, after reactivating the AIS system, on 2 July the vessel entered one of Moldova’s ports. 

Ukrainian authorities seized it while passing through the waters of the port of Reni. 

The Prosecutor General’s Office emphasised that Ukraine had officially ceased the operation of all ports in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as of 15 July 2014. 

Quote from Andrii Kostin, Prosecutor General: „We are continuing our investigations, including into the possible export of grain, probably of Ukrainian origin, from occupied Crimea on this ship.

I call on the international community to increase its efforts to counter violations of the sanctions regime to prevent the aggressor country from continuing to receive resources to carry on with its criminal war.“

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