Two Ukrainian vessels released from arrest in Serbia after more than a year

Two vessels affiliated with the state-owned Ukrainian Danube Shipping Company (UDSC) have been released from arrest in Serbia after more than a year, the company's CEO Dmytro Moskalenko said on Monday.

Before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, UDSC had a debt to NIS Gazprom Neft, a Serbian company that was engaged in bunkering the fleet and linked to Russia’s Gazprom.

At the time, NIS Gazprom Neft considered the debt current and no claims were made for its repayment.

The situation changed after last February, when the Serbian company asked the shipping company to pay back the debt. UDSC could not do so since the majority owner of NIS Gazprom Neft is Russia's Gazprom Neft, and payments to state-owned Russian companies have been prohibited.

Then, last summer Russia managed to arrest the entire UDSC fleet. While the arrest was eventually cancelled, two vessels, the tug Bratislava and the motor ship Mechanic Holovatskyi, remained in Serbia.

"Finally, the vessels have been released from arrest. Soon we will meet them in Ukraine," Mr Moskalenko posted.

Ukrainian Danube Shipping Company is one of the largest shipping companies in Ukraine and the Danube region. It operates on a 2,400-kilometre stretch of the Danube, from the river's mouth to the port of Kelheim, Germany.

The UDSC fleet comprises 75 self-propelled vessels and 245 non-self-propelled vessels.