Saturday, October 4, 2008

Russia call to halt Somali piracy

Russia call to halt Somali piracy

Pirates wants a $20m ransom for the Ukrainian ship and its cargo
Russia's foreign minister has called for joint international action to halt pirate attacks off the Horn of Africa.

"Russia aims to stop the outrageous actions of Somali pirates," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

A Russian warship has already been despatched to Somali waters following last week's seizure of a Ukrainian ship laden with 33 Russian-made tanks.

The pirates are demanding a $20m (£11m) ransom for the vessel which is surrounded by US navy warships.

On Thursday, the European Union agreed to establish an anti-piracy security operation off the coast of Somalia to become operational in November.

Mr Lavrov said the Russians would participate in international efforts to halt the piracy and called for a UN resolution to tackle the problem.

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He said Malaysia was also sending frigates to join the US warships surrounding the pirates.

According to Russia's Itar-Tass news agency, the Russian warship Neutrashimy is to commence patrols in the Gulf of Aden on 6 November.

The warship is reported to be carrying marines and commandoes on board.

The Ukrainian vessel - the Faina - was carrying T-72 tanks, rifles and heavy weapons when it was seized last week and is being held off the coast, near the town of Hobyo.

Most of the 20 crew are Ukrainian or Latvian; one Russian has reportedly died of illness.

The ship is surrounded by US warships, which is not allowing the heavy weapons to be taken off the ship.

Piracy off the coast of Somalia has cost up to $30m (£17m) in ransoms so far this year, a report has said.

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