More than 80 foreign ships are currently stuck in Ukrainian ports. Two blocked freighters have now been seized by pro-Russian separatists in the port of Mariupol. Such an expropriation violates "all norms of international law," protests one of the owners.
Pro-Russian separatists have seized two foreign-flagged freighters in the eastern Ukrainian port of Mariupol and declared them "state property". As the Reuters agency reports, this is the first such expropriation of commercial ships during the Ukraine war. The self-proclaimed "People's Republic" of Donetsk informed two shipping companies that their ships were the subject of "forcible appropriation of movable property with forced conversion into state property". There is no compensation.
The owner of one of the two confiscated ships described the expropriation as illegal and "against all norms of international law". The forced appropriation violates basic human rights such as the right to property, the company said in a statement. "Such an approach poses a serious threat to shipping and maritime safety."
The freighter docked in Mariupol on February 21, just before the war began, and was badly damaged by shelling in March, the company said. Before the confiscation, the Russian military forcibly brought the 19-man crew of the freighter to Donetsk. The crew was released there after a month.
An official at Ukraine's foreign ministry said it was aware of the announcement "by the Russian occupation authority in Donetsk to create a 'national' fleet with ships stolen from Mariupol." The two confiscated ships will also be checked.
According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), more than 80 foreign ships are currently stuck in Ukrainian ports. Some of the plants are said to be under Russian control.