A transport ship the U.S. believes is carrying attack helicopters to Syria is now heading back to Russia. Ostensibly, the MV Alaed turned around after its insurance coverage was pulled. But the ship’s return coincides with a meeting between Obama and Vladimir Putin — a sign the two leaders may be starting to cooperate on what to do about Syria’s deadly war.
According to press reports, the Alaed, with its load of Mi-25 attack helos, had its insurance yanked by its British insurer, Standard Club, on Monday. The insurer had been reportedly approached by British security services and informed that providing insurance to the Alaed, which is owned by Russian cargo line Femco, violated European Union sanctions prohibiting arms sales to Syria. The insurer pulled its coverage, and the ship then turned back toward the Russian port of Kaliningrad. The ship had earlier stopped about 50 miles off Scotland’s northwest coast.
“The foreign secretary made clear to Russian foreign minister [Sergey] Lavrov when they met on 14 June that all defence shipments to Syria must stop,” a British Foreign Office statement read. The Foreign Office added that it is “working closely with international partners” to “stop the Syrian regime’s ability to slaughter civilians being reinforced through assistance from other countries.”