"It was established during a pretrial investigation that on the direct order of the senior leadership of the FSB, representatives of the FSB Border Service carried out an act of armed aggression against Ukrainian warships Nikopol, Berdiansk and the tugboat Yany Kapu in the Kerch Strait. Contrary to the norms of international maritime law, the servicemen of the Russian FSB border troops illegally, using weapons, blocked the movement of Ukrainian warships during their passage through the Kerch-Yenikale Canal in the Kerch Strait with the help of the Neyma tanker (IMO 8895528, MMSI 273347000, flying the flag of the Russian Federation)," the SBU said in a statement on Thursday, July 25.
Such unlawful actions contributed to the violent, with the use of weapons, stoppage and capture by FSB border guards of Ukrainian warships and their 24 crew members.
Due to the blocking by the Neyma tanker of the Kerch-Yenikale Canal in the Kerch Strait, SBU investigators, under the procedural control of the Military Prosecutor's Office, have launched a pretrial investigation.
According to evidence collected by the Military Prosecutor's Office and SBU investigators, suspicion notices were approved in absentia for 15 top-ranking officials in the Russian military leadership, including one counter admiral, two vice-admirals and a colonel-general.
According to Ukrainian border guards, the Russian-flagged tanker Nika Spirit entered the Ukrainian port of Izmail on July 24. According to the Equasis international information system, the vessel was identified as a well-known tanker Neyma that was used to close the Kerch Strait.
The investigation found that the Neyma tanker, with the goal of concealing involvement in illegal acts and an act of aggression that occurred on November 25, 2018, had been renamed to Nika Spirit by Russian owners.
A group of SBU investigators, military prosecutors and border guards are conducting authorized investigative actions on board the detained tanker to determine the actual circumstances of the case, seize documents from the vessel, recordings of radio conversations during the Kerch Strait incident, and logbooks. Crew members were questioned, and the documents needed to establish the truth in the proceedings were seized.
The vessel was recognized as a piece of evidence, and a court petition for its arrest is being prepared.
The SBU recalled that on the initiative of the Military Prosecutor's Office, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine had made a special decision enacted by presidential decree No. 82/2019 of March 19, 2009, imposing special economic sanctions and other restrictive measures on LLC Yuvas Trans for three years. In particular, the assets of the enterprise were blocked, trade operations were limited, and measures were taken to ban its participation in privatization and lease of state property, etc.
LLC Yuvas Trans owns the Kerch Shipyard, which, prior to the blocking of the Kerch-Yenikale Canal, was home to the Neyma tanker.
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