A Russian warship fired warning shots and boarded a cargo ship it claims was headed to Ukraine in the Black Sea on Sunday, according to Russia’s Ministry of Defence.
Russia said the warship fired warning shots when the captain of the Palau-flagged dry cargo ship failed to respond to “the request to stop for inspection for the carriage of prohibited goods.” The incident took place in southwestern Black Sea, the ministry said.
“The Russian warship opened warning fire from automatic small arms fire to forcefully stop the vessel,” the statement said.
The ministry claimed the ship named Sukra Okan was headed to the Ukrainian port of Izmail. Marine traffic websites currently shows the cargo vessel’s destination as the Romanian port of Sulina, which is close to Izmail.
Kyiv did not immediately comment on whether or not the ship was headed to a Ukrainian port.
“In order to inspect the bulk cargo ship, a Ka-29 helicopter with a group of Russian servicemen was hoisted from the patrol ship Vasily Bykov,” the ministry said. “Following radio conversations, the ship stopped its course and the boarding team landed on the bulk cargo ship,” the statement said.
Some context: Russia pulled out of a UN and Turkish brokered deal in July that allowed Ukraine to move its grain via the Black Sea and warned that any ships headed to Ukraine would be treated as potentially carrying weapons.
On Thursday, the Ukrainian navy issued an order declaring "temporary corridors" for merchant ships sailing to and from Ukrainian ports. Although, it admitted that the military threat and mine danger from Russia remained along all routes.