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Russian sailors released from the Nika Spirit tanker that was searched and impounded by Ukraine in the port city of Izmail on Thursday, spoke out about the seizure, in Moldova's Chisinau airport, late on Thursday night.

"It was 8 o'clock in the morning. The military prosecutor came. He showed his documents. They started filming. It is clear that the vessel under the Russian flag is a Russian territory. They conducted the search without the consul's permission and took some documents," described the vessel's captain, Iliya Drebyazhko.

Speaking about the vessel's fate, the engineer on the ten-man crew noted that "it is in the dockyard now. We have tied it up. Our duties are accomplished for now."

Following the vessel's detention, Russia's Foreign Ministry warned Ukraine "there would soon be consequences" if any of the sailors were "to become hostages."

The Russian-flagged ship 'Nika Spirit' was detained by Ukraine's security service, the SBU, and military prosecutors on Thursday as it docked at Ukraine's Izmail port southwest of Odessa.

Ukrainian authorities searched the ship and, after conducting interviews, released the crew, who subsequently travelled to the Moldovan capital before leaving for Russia.

Reportedly called the 'Neyma' at the time, the 'Nika Spirit' allegedly blocked the passage of several Ukrainian Navy ships through the Kerch Strait in November 2018.

According to an FSB statement, on 25 November "at around 07:00 MSK [04:00 GMT], three vessels of the Ukrainian Naval Forces violated articles 19 and 21 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which determines coastal states' rights to ensure security at sea."

Kiev however denies all these accusations.

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