By Selcan Hacaoglu
(Bloomberg) — Turkey released three of four Russian ships that it detained this month at a Black Sea port for maritime safety violations, according to data on the website of Port State Control for the Black Sea.
The action at the port of Samsun came after Russia held five Turkish ships for port inspections at Novorossiysk, according to two port officials who requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak to the media. All the vessels have been released by the Russians.
Three of four Russian ships departed Samsun on Friday after making repairs to fire hoses, lifeguard boats or radios cited and violations by inspectors, the officials said. One remaining Russian ship may leave Monday.
Relations between the countries have deteriorated since Nov. 24, when a Russian warplane flying missions over Syria was shot down by Turkey because the government in Ankara said the jet violated its airspace. Russia denies that the jet had ever crossed the border.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called the incident “a stab in the back” and reiterated on Thursday that Turkish officials “will regret again and again what they’ve done.” Last week Russia blocked Turkish goods from nectarines to shallots.
Turkish maritime officials started inspecting all Russian ships arriving in Turkey in response to similar move by Russia following the downing of Russian jet, according to the officials.
Turkey’s detention of Russian ships had been rare before this month, according to data on the website of the port control agency, which monitors actions at Black Sea ports. Turkey had previously detained a Russian ship in August, while Russia as of Dec. 3 held two Turkish vessels this month and five in November.
It also detained a few Turkish vessels from August through October.
–With assistance from Yuliya Fedorinova.
©2015 Bloomberg News