Separatists in Ukraine’s breakaway Russian-speaking republic formally moved on 1 July to nationalise some of the vessels trapped in Mariupol, a Black Sea port conquered a few weeks ago by invading Russian forces after heavy fighting.

The self-styled, Moscow-backed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) has been warning since early last month that it planned to confiscate vessels stuck in the terminal.

On 30 June, the DPR’s foreign ministry sent a letter to Smarta Shipping, the registered owner of the 16,000-dwt Smarta (built 2007), notifying it of the decision to confiscate the vessel without compensation.