Ukraine Searches Vessel As Putin Visits Crimea for Biker Festival
The Ukraine Prosecutor's Office released a statement on Sunday saying it had searched a vessel in the Black Sea port of Kherson on Saturday as part of ongoing investigations into a suspected illegal delivery of fuel to the Russian Navy in 2015.
The delivery is believed to have been made in the annexed Crimea by the Maria. At the time, the vessel was named Vilga.
Last month, the Ukraine seized a Russian tanker over its alleged involvement in Russia’s capture of three Ukrainian navy vessels last year. A district court in Odessa, ruled to uphold the seizure of the Russian product tanker Nika Spirit, which was detained by Ukrainian government security services in the port of Izmail on July 25. Russia is still holding 24 Ukrainian seafarers who were on board the seized vessels. They are accused of illegally entering territorial waters.
The searching of the Maria comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the annexed Crimean peninsula to attend a bikers' festival. The Night Wolves, a right-wing bikers' group, are reported to have been prominent supporters of the 2014 annexation of the Crimea from the Ukraine.
Shows staged by the Night Wolves are devoted to patriotic topics inspired by Soviet and Russian history, mostly related to important military victories, and speaking at the event, Putin said: “This is a wonderful tradition that you have. It consists of keeping alive all the very best in the heart of every Russian, rooted in our remarkable, heroic history.”
The Ukraine foreign ministry called the visit a blatant violation of Ukraine's sovereignty.