Vince Dhimos answered a question at Quora:
What will be the response to Ukraine seizing the Russian tanker?
In the following you will find my translation from tsargrad.tv news, with commentary and notes [in brackets] by me, Vince Dhimos.
There are at least two reasons why Russia is hesitating to respond to the seizure of their tanker, and they can be gleaned from the article in translation below.
The background of this tanker seizure is the seizure by Russia of 3 Ukrainian naval vessels last March, which had passed through the Kerch Strait in violation of Russian maritime law in an obvious provocation.
This is a complex issue because, for the Russians, they have legal control of the strait, which is bordered on one side by Crimea, which they now claim, and on the other by Russia proper.
Since Crimea is disputed between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, the Ukrainians consider it theirs. The RF’s thinking is that the Crimeans almost unanimously voted in a referendum to accede to the RF and since the vote was held in accordance with UN rules, there can be no further dispute. Gradually, while making pompous statements denying Russia’s right to Crimea, Western governments are slowly reconciling themselves to the reality that Russia holds the cards.
Russia’s case is as follows: the 2014 coup at the Maidan Square in Kiev was not a spontaneous grassroots action. It was illegally instigated and conducted with major assistance from the US government and NGOs and by European governments an NGOs, including the notorious German regime change agency Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, the USAID, NED, a Soros Open Society foundation and the State Department itself. Out in the open, in-your-face, violent manipulation of the internal politics of a sovereign country that should never have happened. It was nothing but raw Russophobia in that the ousted president had cultivated good relations with Russia, relations that promoted Ukraine’s economy. Since the coup, President Poroshenko tore up all existing economic agreements with Russia and, as anyone could have guessed, Ukraine’s economy deteriorated—in addition, Ukraine has also been finding it difficult to acquire natural gas to heat homes. The IMF, since the coup, now lists Ukraine as the poorest country in Europe. Needless to say, the Crimeans consider themselves very lucky to have acceded to the RF while many Ukrainians can best be described as confused. Many assumed that by allying with the most powerful country in the world and cutting ties to Russia, they would see an uptick in their economy. Just the opposite happened. The decline in US power and the rise in Russian power have been so rapid that Westerners like the Ukrainians are not keeping up with the changes and are paying a price.
The RF has invested heavily in Crimean infrastructure, even building a very long railroad bridge and parallel highway bridge between the Russian mainland and Crimea. Clearly the accession to the RF is a done deal no matter whose side you are on and Ukraine has no military means of reclaiming Crimea. It is therefore resorting to petty provocations and is surprised to find that the US, which has other irons in the fire, is not propping it up. The incursion into the strait by the three above–mentioned Ukrainian military vessels was one example. Russia, as anyone could have expected, impounded the three ships and held the Ukrainian sailors on board under arrest for the violation of RF rules, which require filing a request before entering the Kerch Strait. The UN ruled against RF regarding the situation of the prisoners, but the Kremlin ignored the decision. Undoubtedly it is hoping for a prisoner exchange opportunity and is particularly interested in the release of Kyrylo Vyshynsky, a staff reporter for RIA Novosti who holds dual citizenship. Vyshynsky had been arrested as a “traitor” for reporting on various incidents involving Ukraine and the RF.
Two important reasons for Moscow’s hesitation to respond to the tanker seizure:
1—Moscow has a wide array of options to influence Kiev and they must weigh all possibilities to find the most appropriate one.
2—Moscow must try to ascertain whether the decision to seize the tanker was made by newly installed President Zelensky himself or by officials loyal to ex-president Petro Petrochenko, who is a sore loser and would be happy to avenge himself by getting Zelensky in trouble with the RF. If it is the former, then as the author states below, the whole affair is much more “dismal,” while if it is the latter, then this is more of an internal problem that Zelensky must fix, preferably by firing the decision makers. In that case, the Russians could go more lightly on Zelenski. It is to their advantage to maintain good relations with him.
July 25, 2019 21:46 / Capture of a Russian tanker
“If this was Zelensky’s idea, then this whole affair much more dismal”:
Voenkor Kots proposed 4 retaliatory measures to seize the tanker Neyma
The security service of Ukraine has seized a Russian tanker. How can Russia respond to "Ukrainian piracy" in the Black Sea. Analysis by military correspondent Alexander Kots.
On July 25, Ukraine’s Security Service announced the seizure of the Russian tanker Neyma. Alexander Kots, military correspondent for Komsomolskaya Pravda, explains why this happened and how Russia should react to it.
He notes that the initiators of the new escalation between Moscow and Kiev are, most likely, representatives of the outgoing authorities, who finally decided to “slam the door hard” and make life difficult for the new Ukrainian president, Vladimir Zelensky. If the initiator was actually the Ukrainian leader himself, then everything is much more dismal. This means that Zelensky has decided to continue the course of his predecessor, Ukrainian ex-president Petro Poroshenko, ie, state terrorism with the seizure of hostages and legalized piracy.
In any case, the military correspondent notes, Russia is obliged to respond to this attack by Ukraine. At the same time, Moscow has in its arsenal a wide array of means to influence Kiev. For example, Russia may tighten the rules for the passage of Ukrainian ships through the Kerch Strait, as it did during the situation with the seizure by Ukraine of the Crimean fishing vessel Nord.
As another option for impact, Kots proposes to take a closer look at the ships under the Ukrainian flag calling at the ports of Russia. If through the chain of tenants there is a Ukrainian owner of the vessel, who is already on Russia’s sanctions list, then the ship can be safely seized.
Another viable means is to file a lawsuit against Ukraine in international courts, Kots suggests. There would be an interesting precedent if an international court legalizes state piracy.
Finally, Russia can do the same as it did in Georgia, adds the military reporter. Only instead of a ban on direct flights, prohibit Russian ships from entering Ukrainian ports. [In response to the anti-Russian riots in the Republic of Georgia, described here, the Russians stopped all commercial flights to and from Georgia, curtailing the tourist industry between the two countries and costing the Georgians estimated millions per year. Economic punitive measures like this are routine when Russia is slighted by US-instigated Russophobic actions designed to harm the RF]
Recall that on Thursday, July 25, the Security Service of Ukraine seized the Russian tanker Neyma, which moored in the port of Izmail in the Odessa region. On board the ship was a crew of 10 people.