Comment by the Information and Press Department on Russian sailors captured in the Gulf of Guinea
The Russian Foreign Ministry expresses its most serious concern at the increased frequency of pirate attacks on ships travelling via the Gulf of Guinea with the aim of taking hostages and obtaining a ransom for their release. According to the Russian Embassy in Nigeria, 27 Russian sailors have been abducted by pirates over the past 18 months. Thanks to the persistent efforts of the Embassy’s diplomats, and coordinated action by the Nigerian authorities and representatives of the ship-owning companies, 22 Russian citizens have been released.
However, three sailors from the merchant ship Rio Mitong (sailing under the flag of the Comoros) and the Djibloho, owned by the Government of Equatorial Guinea, captured by pirates in May 2020, continue to be held captive. The situation of these Russians is of particular concern because the process of their release has been delayed, and the pirates periodically put forward new ultimatums. We are making every effort to have the sailors released as soon as possible.
On September 8, during another pirate attack in the Gulf of Guinea, two more Russians from the Water Phoenix refrigerator ship belonging to the Dutch transport company Seatrade Groningen were taken prisoner by pirates. Hard work is underway to establish contact with the kidnappers.
This said, navigation in that part of the Atlantic has become extremely dangerous and poses a real threat to the lives of those working on contract as part of ship crews in that region. We urge all interested parties, authorities and law enforcement agencies in the Gulf of Guinea states to consolidate their efforts and take effective preventive measures to curb pirate activity.
At the same time, once again, we call on our compatriots to carefully weigh all the risks associated with working on ships bound to travel via the Gulf of Guinea. When making a decision, it is extremely important to consider the potential consequences of being captured by pirates, including the most drastic ones. We also assume that recruitment and employment companies operating in Russia recruiting sailors will react appropriately to the high degree of danger to shipping in that region of the Atlantic.