Armed guards dropped from helicopters onto a Greenpeace International Ship in international waters on Thursday, and are now towing the ship to Murmansk. The crew of the ship was reportedly protesting the first ever offshore oil rig in the Arctic, owned by the Russian State organization Gazprom. Greenpeace considers the oil rig a risk to the environment and wishes to keep the ecosystem untainted.
The Russian Federal Security Service supported the seizure, citing laws that govern their exclusive economic zone. Ben Ayliff, head of Greenpeace’s Arctic oil campaign, expressed surprise at the seizure. “We have no idea why they’re being held,” he said about the ship’s crew. “Are they being charged? Why were they detaining our ship in international waters?”
On Wednesday, two Greenpeace members scaled the rig and were detained. Thursday night, the Russian troops fired several warning shots, but no one was injured as the ship was stormed.
The ship, the Arctic Sunrise, and Greenpeace International are based in the Netherlands, and Russia already complained to the Dutch ambassador about the protests before the seizure. The crew of the ship contains citizens of many foreign nations, including the United States.