A Russian ship purportedly carrying helicopter gunships to Syria, which was forced to return to port, will now operate under a Russian flag, the ship’s owner, Femco, said on Monday.
Femco said that was necessary “in order to protect its interests, the security of the ship and its crew, all of whom are Russian citizens.”
The company said the MV Alaed’s final destination was the Far Eastern port of Vladivostok.
The MV Alaed, sailing under the Curaçao flag, had to return to the northern port of Murmansk last week after its British insurers pulled their coverage as it rounded the coast of Scotland.
Femco declined to comment on “the nature of the cargo on board.”
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday the MV Alaed carried overhauled disassembled helicopters to Syria, not gunships, as claimed by Western media, which said the ship carried armaments and ammunition to Syria.
The helicopters became the center of a diplomatic row last week, with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claiming Russia was supplying weapons that would be used against civilian protesters.