Russian arms for Syria ship turns back

2012-06-19 18:59

London - A Russian ship allegedly carrying attack helicopters destined for Syria has turned back from British waters and is believed to be returning home, Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Tuesday.

The vessel, the MV Alaed, had stopped off the Scottish coast after its British insurer said it had withdrawn cover because of the claims that it was carrying arms for President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

"I am pleased that the ship that was reported to be carrying arms to Syria has now turned back apparently towards Russia," Hague told parliament.

Britain's Foreign Office said it was "aware of a ship carrying a consignment of refurbished Russian-made attack helicopters heading to Syria", although it did not specify whether it was the Alaed.

It said Hague had told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov when they met on 14 June in Afghanistan that "all defence shipments to Syria must stop".

The Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported that the ship, owned by Russian cargo line Femco, had picked up its cargo of Mi-25 helicopters from the Russian port of Kaliningrad, where they had been sent for servicing and repairs.

The United States alerted Britain to the consignment and British security services told Standard Club that providing insurance for the shipment would breach EU sanctions, reports said.

The insurer, Standard Club, confirmed that it had cancelled insurance for the ship and for all others in the fleet owned by Russian cargo line Femco.

"We were made aware of the allegations that the Alaed was carrying munitions destined for Syria, which would be a clear breach of our Club rules," it said in a statement provided to AFP.

"We consequently informed the ship owner that their insurance cover ceased automatically in view of the nature of the voyage."

Annulled contract

A spokesperson for Standard Club said the withdrawal of insurance was "not because of any external pressure". But the spokesperson declined to say where the information about the shipment came from.

Femco said it had annulled a contract with the ship's current commercial operator, Denmark's United Nordic Shipping "per mutual consent" as of Monday, but did not give further details.

There was no immediate reaction from Russian authorities.

But a Russian shipping website added to the air of mystery around the shipment by saying that the Alaed was probably returning from Syria after having dropped off the helicopters.

The Maritime Bulletin, a specialist website run by Russian shipping analyst Mikhail Voitenko, said the ship had stopped reporting its Automatic Identification System (AIS) tracking data on 18 June.

It had by that stage passed the waters of Scotland and England in a direction taking it to the Baltic shores of Russia.

Maritime Bulletin also noted a big hole in Alaed's official port call history between 2 May when it was in Gibraltar and Saint Petersburg on 4 June. The journey between the two would normally have taken eight to ten days.

The website also quoted United Nordic Shipping as saying it had recently sold the Alaed to Femco and "was extremely sorry for ever having had dealings" with the Russian shipping firm.

United Nordic Shipping was not immediately available for comment.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Russia one week ago of fuelling the violence by sending attack helicopters to Syria, which she said were "on the way".

Russia last week said it was not making any new deliveries of attack helicopters to Syria and has only carried out repairs of helicopters which were sold to Damascus in the Soviet era.

In Moscow, news reports Monday said that Russia was preparing to send two warships to the Syrian port of Tartus where Moscow operates a strategic naval base to ensure the safety of its nationals.

  • toofaan.monsoon - 2012-06-19 19:28

    Make no mistake, the Russians just care about the money. Not saying that anyone else is not in the same camp, but the manner in which the Russians and Chinese try to position themselves as the morally correct nations of the world these days is really quite sickening.

      jans.opresser - 2012-06-19 19:43

      and let me guess? america and western countries are backing the al-qaeda rebels because its the right thing to do? take a look at LIBYA if you are dumb enough to believe any of ther lies that YOU posted. all western nations want from syria is to destabilize it. there is nohting more "sickening" than the brutal actions of america and nato countries who are KNOWINGLY siding with a bunch of terrorist from al-qaeda under the disguise of democracy seeking protest. the russians and the chinese are the saints in this plot!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-06-19 19:55

      IS, jans.oppresser---------thatuglybrotherfromthestates ??????

      arthur.hugh - 2012-06-19 20:53

      Are you Shi**ing me? Since when has the USA or any other country, the French, Africa or Uk etc ever done any different? There's no sides here, no one evil except for the common denominator - denominations.

      toofaan.monsoon - 2012-06-19 21:17

      Amazing - so nobody read the line about everyone else being in the same camp ??? It's this simple, they're all the same in having ulterior motives, but my point is that the Russians and Chinese are much better these days at the shadow games where they convince you that they're actually a force for good : this is utter nonsense. At least with the west, you can easily see the ulterior motive these days. If you keep on thinking that the communists (and I include the lot from Stalin's camp here) actually care about anything but themselves, you're very deluded.

  • craig.ormond - 2012-06-19 19:40

  • craig.ormond - 2012-06-19 19:42

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-06-19 19:59

      Craig. Do yourself a favor, watch a 'news' channel, instead of a comic show !! it might just help you understand a bit more what's happening !

  • arthur.hugh - 2012-06-19 20:47

    Few points to notice: "allegedly carrying attack helicopters destined for Syria" (NO PROOF) "But the spokesperson declined to say where the information about the shipment came from." (NO PROOF) "We consequently informed the ship owner that their insurance cover ceased automatically in view of the nature of the voyage." (NO PROOF) ...withdrawal of insurance was "not because of any external pressure". (NO COMMENT) "But a Russian shipping website added to the air of mystery around the shipment..." (NO COMMENT) "...United Nordic Shipping as saying it had recently sold the Alaed to Femco..." (NO COMMENT) "...US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Russia one week ago of fuelling the violence by sending attack helicopters to Syria..." COMMENT: What's good for the Goose, is good for the Gander, no?

      arthur.hugh - 2012-06-19 20:58

      Besides that - since when is the wife of an ex ex president had her comments on politics taken seriously. Did the USA vote for Hillary or Bill? What are those decrepit old fogies doing still commenting on a political scale that is deemed newsworthy while Obama is in the reigns?

      arthur.hugh - 2012-06-19 21:00


  • rudiwaan.joseph - 2012-06-20 17:32

    Whilst the focus is on Russia in the syrian weapons saga,, weapons are making its way to the 'opposition' and it just happen to get there unnoticed ! Hows that for timing?

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-06-20 17:45

      Damn good timing !! For 11 months the opposition was UNARMED, and faced the slaughtering of these assad terrorist. Now they need and deserve every bit of help, from whomever !! But succeeed they will, to get this assad MONSTER out of THEIR country !!!

      rudiwaan.joseph - 2012-06-20 19:16

      the only monster i see is you! The intollerance that you are accusing these tyrants, dictators and unelected rulers of is clearly displayed by you too! I have a problem with people who all of a sudden decided, after 50 yrs that they have to save a nation from 'dictatorship'! Is it coincidence that it just happen to follow after America said that the ruler should be removed?

      rude.awakning - 2012-06-21 05:59

      patrick. i agree with you! this ''american groupie' is most likely residing on american soil and an agent of uncle sam! Pretending to be from Africa!

      jaba.kov - 2012-06-21 06:37

      Assad - the butcher of Damascus will fall Inshallah It might not be good for China Russia or the rest of BRICS but it will stop the slaughter of civilians. BTW Syrian troops are using Russian arms and Iranian troops on the ground – they have been killing Syrian civilians (so far 14000). Furthermore, the opposition is also using Russian arms.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-06-21 10:30

      Rudiwaan, Patrick and Rude, Come on, give each other a 'thumbs up' and than move onto the next article ! You all deserve , 'some' recognition !!!

      rude.awakning - 2012-06-22 21:44

      jaba. I would like to know where you get your detailed info from? it is also extremely presumptious of you to think that all people that dont share your view , belongs to the muslim faith. If assad's regime falls it will no doubt be because of western interfernce and their goal acheived and nothing less! 20 yrs from now the new 'democratic' rulers of syria for some reason will fall foul of the western powers and history will repeat itself!! So save sum of your prayers!!! As for anthony your are being a sore looser! It is by your choice (unless you are being instructed by your handlers!??) that you add to peoples comments that is OBVIOUSLY different to yours, then expect them to shut the f:

      rude.awakning - 2012-06-22 22:30

      cont........ From last post. @ anthony....You are the one that should move to...maybe NON political issues and ( ha ha) hope you dont get outwitted there too! To you and jaba.......Shalom alecham!

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