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Russia annoyed by Operation Irini and makes it known

(B2) The friendly approach made by a Greek frigate on a Russian merchant ship causes the rise in the towers of Moscow. Russian Foreign Ministry talks about incident and asks for clarification

A friendly approach...

When the sailors of the Greek frigate adrias (F-459 Adrias) approaching theEagle, a Russian-flagged container ship, in early January, they don't assume it's going to become a political issue. For the guys from Operation Irini, it's a bit of a routine. A friendly approach. The 63rd of its kind. A visit on board, where sailors exchange information. " It is useful for both they say at Irini HQ. " In a very short period of time, the officer learns more about the traffickers in the Mediterranean and the captain of the ship sees those who patrol his route.

... rise in 'incident' in Moscow

But in Moscow, we do not hear it that way. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova thunders: Russia demands explanation from Greece for control of Russian-flagged vessel in the Mediterranean ". We must " clarify the circumstances of the incident, in which many things remain incomprehensible to us » she says in a communicated. In particular, this requires clarification of the international legal standards and specific information [that enabled] a Russian vessel to be inspected, as well as whether international procedures for inspecting ships on the high seas were followed.

A mention of an inspection...

And to add: Inspecting vessels on the high seas off the coast of Libya is only possible if there are reasonable grounds to believe they are carrying weapons or related material. And this requires in good faith the prior consent of the flag State ».

... denied by Operation Irini

In fact, there is no inspection, as a spokesperson for the operation confirmed to us. But only a friendly visit. That is to say a visit carried out with the prior agreement of the captain, without questioning or searching the ship. The means employed, via helicopter, may appear quite audacious. It is simply a means of convenience.

Comments : after Turkey, which had more outrageously protested against the action of Operation Irini, here is now Russia which is entering the dance, in a more subtle way of course, but by mixing up certain information. It seems that the European operation is hampering the arms suppliers on both sides. The Turkish-Russian enemy brothers being opposed in Libya, the first supporting the government of national accord in Tripoli, the second Haftar's men based in Benghazi.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).