Russia has detained an Israeli sailor who was on board a Ukrainian cargo ship that was seized by the Russian navy in the Black Sea over the weekend, his brother told Ynet on Monday.
Semion Shvidky said that his brother Yuri, 51, was on board the Ukrainian-flagged bulk carrier Princess Nicole when it was seized by the Russian navy in the territorial waters of Romania on Saturday and towed to the port of Sevastopol in the Crimean Peninsula.
The Ukrainian government said that Princess Nicole "was approached by Russian warships and made an illogical and sharp change of course while headed to Snake Island."
"My brother texted us that he has been detained by the Russian, that he was taken to land, and he has no clue where he is. He hasn't written us since," Shvidy told Ynet.
He said that Yuri has been a seaman for many years but has been working aboard Princess Nicole for just a few months. The father of two made Aliyah in 2005 and holds dual Israeli-Ukrainian citizenship. He decided to go back to Ukraine several years later to reunite with his family.
"I am worried sick because the Russians are shooting people and we don't know what may happen to him," Shvidky said.
After the incident, Shvidky called the Foreign Ministry in tears asking them to help save his brother, and since then Israeli diplomats have been making tremendous efforts to track Yuri and bring him home.
The Ukrainian state border guard service also reported that another commercial vessel named Athena had been seized by the Russian navy in Russian waters, 22 nautical miles from Ukraine's Snake Island in the Black Sea.
Ukraine accused the Russian navy of violating international law under the guise of a "counter-terrorism operation", adding that there were 50 crew members on both vessels.