Russia Sharply Raises Interest Rates as Wartime Financial Problems Pile Up


Cargo ships in the Black Sea off the coast of Romania. Russian forces boarded a commercial vessel in the waterway this weekend.Credit…Andreea Campeanu for The New York Times

Russia’s Ministry of Defense released a video on Tuesday that shows part of a naval operation in which military personnel landed by helicopter on a cargo ship on the Black Sea, in an inspection that Ukraine has condemned as illegal.

The video, the second to emerge since the Sunday episode, has been verified by The New York Times. It appears to have been shot by Russian forces, in part from a head-mounted camera.

“Stop machine! Stop machine!” a Russian officer, machine gun pointed, shouts in English at crew members as he walks through an open door onto the bridge of the cargo ship, the Sukru Okan. “Keep calm and listen to me.”

In the video, three crew members on the bridge stand with their hands on their heads. One leans over and presses a button on the ship’s control panel, apparently to comply with the Russian’s order by cutting the ship’s engines. The three men follow orders to sit, dropping to their knees.

“Good day, sir,” the Russian officer says to a man in jeans and a T-shirt, who has identified himself as the ship’s captain. “I am a Russian Navy officer. My actions will be recorded on video.” He orders the captain to speak in English, the main language of international shipping. None of the people shown in the video are identified by name.

The Russian officer then demands to know why the ship had not stopped, pointing at a radio, apparently to indicate that a command to halt had been sent. The captain, speaking in halting English, replies “bad understand.” He appears to be blaming the ship’s chief engineer, who he says has been in the engine room rather than on the bridge, for not complying with his order to halt.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense said on Sunday that its personnel had fired warning shots to get the ship to stop before the navy helicopter landed, but that part of the episode is not recorded on either of the two videos. The videos provide the only visual evidence of the Russian operation, and it was not possible to determine the full scope of what took place.

The earlier video, which was posted on Monday by military bloggers in Russia and news organizations and has been verified by The New York Times, shows a Russian helicopter approaching the vessel and the ship’s crew sitting on deck in a position of surrender. The Sukru Okan sails under the flag of Palau, an island country in the western Pacific, but is owned and managed by a Turkish company, according to the shipping database Equasis.

The forced inspection is apparently the first since Russia declined last month to extend a deal allowing Ukraine to export its grain across the Black Sea. Since then, tensions have risen sharply in the Black Sea, one theater of the war in Ukraine.

Russian attacks and the pressure on shipping aim to sharply curtail Ukraine’s ability to export its grain and other food crops, said Alexis Ellender, a global analyst at Kpler, a commodities analytics firm.

Mr. Ellender said that it appeared unlikely that Moscow would restore the Black Sea grain deal. In its absence, Ukraine has sought alternative export routes including its Danube River ports, but Russia launched strikes against two of those ports in recent weeks. Sunday’s incident could raise shipping insurance premiums and freight costs but shippers were unlikely to be deterred, Mr. Ellender said.

It was not immediately possible to speak with the Sukru Okan’s captain or the ship’s owner. The ship had been bound for the Ukrainian river port of Izmail, according to Kyiv and Moscow, but for the last 24 hours it has stood off the coast of the Romanian Danube River port of Sulina, according to the Marine Traffic website.

Jenny Gross contributed reporting.

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