Russia slams UK over seizure of Iranian tanker

Tasnim – Russia’s foreign ministry condemned the UK for seizing an Iran-operated supertanker off the coast of Gibraltar, saying that the move is a “deliberate step” to worsen the situation around Iran and Syria.

“We condemn the seizure of a supertanker flying the Panamanian flag committed on July (4) by the Gibraltar authorities who were backed by UK Royal Marines,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a Friday statement, carried by TASS news agency.

“We consider the detention of the vessel and its cargo as a deliberate step geared to further aggravate the situation around Iran and Syria. Commentaries by UK and US officials that came immediately after this operation only prove these assessments and indicate that this operation had been plotted beforehand and involved corresponding services and agencies of several countries,” it added.

On early Thursday morning, British Royal Marines in Gibraltar stormed the 300,000-tonne Grace 1 and detained it, accusing it of carrying oil to Syria in possible violation of the European Union’s sanctions on the war-torn Arab country.

Iran has condemned the move as “maritime piracy” and summoned Britain’s ambassador in protest. It has vowed to employ all its political and legal capacities to secure the release of the vessel and uphold its rights.

Separately, Spain’s acting Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said on Friday that Madrid was planning to lodge a formal complaint against the UK and was studying the circumstances and looking at how the incident is affecting its sovereignty.

Spain, which challenges the British ownership of Gibraltar, has said the seizure was prompted by a US request to Britain and appeared to have taken place in Spanish waters.