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The Arctic Sunrise, a ship registered in Holland and which was protesting oil exploration in the Arctic, has been boarded by armed Russian special forces.
The Russian commandos were lowered onto the deck of the vessel from helicopters, where upon they began to round up the crew and Greenpeace protestors living on the ship.
Three people managed to lock themselves in a secure part of the ship and sent out some panicked tweets:
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“This is pretty terrifying. Loud banging. Screaming in Russian. They're still trying to kick in the door.”
“Crew are sitting on their knees on the helipad with guns pointed at them.”
Frank Hewetson, the action coordinator on the vessel, said that 29 of the crew had been taken and were being held under armed guard in the canteen.
“About 10 commandoes boarded by a soviet era helicopter. They pushed us aside and ordered us to lie flat out on the deck. They then smashed their way onto the bridge,” he said. “Our engines have been turned off and they have isolated the captain Pete Wilcox. We have no idea what is happening.”
Executives at the Greenpeace offices in London have described the Russian boarding action as an illegal act carried out in international waters. They claim that the protest was entirely peaceful, and that the ship was breaking no laws in being in those waters.
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The Russian’s on the other hand do not agree, claiming that the activists had been involved in aggressive and provocative actions, such as the scaling of the Prirazlomnaya platform which is drilling for oil in the area. Gazprom hopes to begin producing oil from the Prirazlomnaya platform next year.
The Russian Foreign Ministry warned that “the intruders' actions … had the outward signs of extremist activity that can lead to people's death and other grave consequences.”
Kumi Naidoo, the executive director of Greenpeace International, said that “this illegal boarding of a peaceful protest ship highlights the extreme lengths that the Russian government will go to keep Gazprom's dangerous Arctic drilling away from public scrutiny. We ask President Putin to restrain the Coast Guard and order them to holster their guns and withdraw. We are a peaceful organisation and our protest has done nothing to warrant this level of aggression.”
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com
James Burgess studied Business Management at the University of Nottingham. He has worked in property development, chartered surveying, marketing, law, and accounts. He has also…