Tanker Smolnyi, detained by Russians, is not Ukrainian. Kremlin lying, again.
Russian Coast Guard, which is under command of Russian Security Agency FSB (ex KGB) on July 23 issued a statement, saying that they detained in Crimean waters, near port of Kerch, a Ukraine–flagged tanker Smolniy with more than 1000 tons of undocumented fuel oil. AIS was off since the end of 2013, tanker is suspected in illegal bunkering of vessels calling Crimea. Russian authorities widespread the news throughout Russian major media (and the news hit world major media, too), making it look like Ukrainian tanker was engaged in fuel contraband. Well, it’s not exactly the true, or to be exact, there’s no truth at all. Tanker in question is based in Kerch port, is operated by Kerch-based shipping company, and is engaged in bunkering and ships supply. Tanker has been accused of entering Russian territorial waters and transferring illegal fuel to other ships, said Russian officials. Firstly, Crimean waters according to international law, are Ukrainian waters, not Russian. Secondly, how else can a vessel supply other vessels with bunker and supplies in Crimean waters and Crimean ports, except sailing in Crimean waters?
AIS was off and tanker is under Ukrainian flag: many vessels calling Crimean ports switch off their AIS (among them vessels belonging to Russian, Turkish, Greek and other countries companies), because they know, that by calling Crimea they violate international sanctions imposed on Crimea and Russia, for Crimea annexation. If Russian Coast Guard, by way of experiment, would detain all vessels with AIS off in Crimean ports, they’d disrupt altogether bleak Crimean shipping, because they’d have to detain a lion’s share of vessels.
Many vessels based in Crimea didn’t change their flag and remain under Ukrainian flag, for a number of reasons. Many of them (if not all, at least from time to time) have to switch off AIS to avoid arrest in Ukrainian waters.
Russian officials and media didn’t mention the above listed facts, and made it all look like a crime, committed by Ukrainians. They didn’t mention one basic fact, the fact that tanker though Ukraine-flagged, has nothing to do with Ukraine after Crimea annexation, just because tanker is based in Kerch, which is occupied by Russia, and is working in Crimean waters, which are occupied by Russia.
They didn’t mention it, because they found excellent opportunity to make one more fake, one more news fraud, in their media war against Ukraine.