Armed Russian Officers Board Greenpeace Protest Ship

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Greenpeace has said that 30 activists are being held at gunpoint by Russian security officers who stormed the group’s ship in the Arctic, reports the BBC.

Members of the Russian coastguard boarded the Arctic Sunrise in the Pechora Sea via helicopter and ropes on Thursday, the Guardian reports. Greenpeace says the vessel was in international waters at the time of boarding. It is currently being towed by a Russian coastguard ship back to the Russian port city of Murmansk, the Guardian reports.

A spokeswoman for Greenpeace in Australia said that all but two of the activists were rounded up at gunpoint and held in the ship’s mess, says the Guardian. Two crew members barricaded themselves in the ship’s radio room but eventually the room was stormed by the military, the Guardian adds. No injuries have been reported.

The Russian coastguard had earlier arrested two other Greenpeace activists who had scaled an oil drilling platform run by the Russian gas company Gazprom on Wednesday, reports the Guardian. The group says that the oil drilling threatens a unique and fragile environment — a claim denied by Moscow, the BBC reports.

The Russian foreign ministry has accused Greenpeace of “aggressive and provocative” behavior, reports the BBC. It said the actions of the activists who tried to board Gazprom’s drilling rig on Wednesday “threatened people’s lives and could lead to environmental catastrophe in the Arctic with unpredictable consequences.”

However, according to the Guardian, Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo described the act as “an illegal boarding of a peaceful protest ship.” He added it highlighted the “extreme lengths that the Russian government would go to keep Gazprom’s dangerous Arctic drilling away from public scrutiny,” reported the Guardian.