A Russian warship fired warning shots and boarded a small bulk carrier in international water, claiming ir was headed to Ukraine in the Black Sea on Sunday, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry.
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. Ukraine made a similar threat to ships traveling to Russian ports.
Russia said the warship fired warning shots when the captain of the Palau-flagged dry cargo ship failed to respond to a request to stop for an inspection.
“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 Sukru Okan – was headed to the Ukrainian port of Izmail. The ship appears to be owned by Turkish interests, according to various shipping databases.
“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.
Mykhailo Podolyak, senior adviser to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, described the incident as a “deliberate attack” and a “clear violation of international law of the sea, an act of piracy and a crime against civilian vessels of a third country in the waters of other states.”