The U.S. State Department is seeking explanations from Moscow over a ship that probably headed from Russia with a cargo of weapons to Syria.
The cargo ship MV Chariot, flying the St. Vincent and Grenadines flag, was en route from St. Petersburg to the Syrian port of Latakia when it was briefly held and inspected in the Cypriot port of Larnaka on suspicion it carried weapons.
“We have, as you know, asked for clarification from the Russian Federation. This was a subject of discussion with the Embassy. It was also raised by Deputy Secretary Burns when he was in Moscow,” Department of State Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.
“Our understanding is that the Russian side continues to look into who was responsible and what happened precisely,” she went on.
The spokeswoman said the U.S. is unable to confirm immediately if the ship carried weapons and breached the existing sanctions on Syria, imposed after months of deadly unrest against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.
“We have not been able to independently verify it. We have the reports from the Cypriots who saw some of the cargo, but we don’t – we haven’t been able to independently verify,” Nuland said.
Cypriot media said the ship was carrying from 35 to 60 tons of ammunition and explosives meant for the Syrian Defense Ministry.