Russian Navy vessels captured two civilian Ukrainian ships on Feb. 26 during what Russia said was a “counter-terrorist operation” in the northwestern part of the Black Sea, Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service wrote on Facebook on Feb. 27.
The Afina cargo vessel was in in the territorial sea of Romania, 22 miles from Zmiinyi (Snake) Island, and received an order via a safety of navigation channel to approach the Russian warship for inspection.
The ship-owner immediately informed the Ukrainian authorities about the incident.
The maritime border guards tracked the movement of ships in this area and recorded a sharp and illogical change in the course of another vessel under the Ukrainian flag – the Princess Nicole cargo vessel.
“Almost as soon as both civilian ships approached the Russian warships, the AIS (Automatic Identification System) was turned off on them and the contact with them was cut off. This morning, the ships’ AIS showed them to be 18 miles from (Russian-)occupied Crimea,” the border guard service said.
“Thus, Russian warships have once again violated the global maritime norms. Under the guise of a self-proclaimed counter-terrorist operation, they piratically captured two ships under the Ukrainian flag with almost 50 civilian crew members.”