EU urges Russia to release Lithuania fishing boat

30th September 2014, Comments 0 comments

The EU urged Russia on Tuesday to release a Lithuanian fishing boat seized in international waters, in the latest incident involving Baltic states and their former Soviet master.

A spokesman for the European Union's diplomatic service said the vessel and its crew members were captured by Russian border guards in "high seas waters" in the Barents Sea on September 18.

Brussels has raised the matter with the Russian Ambassador to the 28-nation bloc, it added.

"We are concerned by the forced apprehension of the Lithuanian fishing vessel 'Juros Vilkas'..., the subsequent detention of the vessel and its crew, as well as its forceful towing to Russian territory," the spokesman said in a statement.

The EU urged Moscow to "respect its international obligations and to immediately release the vessel."

The fishing boat had a crew of nearly 30 people, including Lithuanian and Russian nationals, who remain in detention after the boat was towed to the port of Murmansk, EU sources said.

The incident comes weeks after fellow Baltic state Estonia accused Moscow of abducting a border policeman at gunpoint from its territory. Russia accused him of spying.

The Baltic states, which won independence from the Soviet Union after the Cold War and have since become members of NATO and the EU, have been nervously watching Russia's recent resurgence and the crisis in Ukraine.

© 2014 AFP

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