A Russian ship allegedly carrying attack helicopters destined for Syria has turned back from British waters and is believed to be returning home, Foreign Secretary William Hague said Tuesday.
The vessel, the MV Alaed, had stopped off the Scottish coast after its British insurer said it had withdrawn cover because of the claims that it was carrying arms for President Bashar Assad's regime.
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"I am pleased that the ship that was reported to be carrying arms to Syria has now turned back apparently towards Russia," Hague told parliament.
Britain's Foreign Office said it was "aware of a ship carrying a consignment of refurbished Russian-made attack helicopters heading to Syria," although it did not specify whether it was the Alaed.
The MV Alaed
It said Hague had told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov when they met on June 14 in Afghanistan that "all defense shipments to Syria must stop."
The Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported that the ship, owned by Russian cargo line Femco, had picked up its cargo of Mi-25 helicopters from the Russian port of Kaliningrad, where they had been sent for servicing and repairs.
The United States alerted Britain to the consignment and British security services told Standard Club that providing insurance for the shipment would breach EU sanctions, reports said.
The insurer, Standard Club, confirmed that it had cancelled insurance for the ship and for all others in the fleet owned by Russian cargo line Femco.
"We were made aware of the allegations that the Alaed was carrying munitions destined for Syria, which would be a clear breach of our Club rules," it said.
"We consequently informed the ship owner that their insurance cover ceased automatically in view of the nature of the voyage."
Femco said it had annulled a contract with the ship's current commercial operator, Denmark's United Nordic Shipping "per mutual consent" as of Monday, but did not give further details.
There was no immediate reaction from Russian authorities.
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