Russia accuses US of stoking tensions in Mideast

It thanked Iran for helping rescue 11 Russian nationals who were part of one of the tankers’ crew.

14 June 2019 | 20:20

Source: Associated Press

  • Source: Associated Press
  • Last update: 14 June 2019 | 20:20

This June 13, 2019 false-color image from the European Commission's Sentinel-2 satellite that was processed by Sinergise's Sentinel Hub website shows the Norwegian-owned MT Front Altair, bottom right, ablaze with smoke rising from it in the Gulf of Oman after what the U.S. described as a limpet mine attack by Iran. (AP Photo)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: The Russian Foreign Ministry has warned against rushing to assign blame for attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman and accused the U.S. of stoking tensions in the region with its accusations against Iran.

The ministry said in Friday’s statement that the U.S.’s “Iranophobic” stance has “artificially” fueled tensions. It urged all parties involved to show restraint.

The Russian statement came after President Donald Trump blamed Iran for the attacks and called it “a nation of terror.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Moscow strongly condemns the attacks in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, but warned against blaming anyone until the completion of a “thorough and unbiased international probe.”

It thanked Iran for helping rescue 11 Russian nationals who were part of one of the tankers’ crew.

Japanese Foreign Ministry press secretary Takeshi Osuga has condemned Thursday’s attacks on a Japanese-operated tanker near the Strait of Hormuz, calling it a threat to Japan’s peace and prosperity.

Osuga, in a statement Friday, didn’t identify a suspected attacker and pledged to continue gathering information and secure the safety of maritime navigation. He said, “Japan firmly condemns such attacks which threaten the safety of ships.”

Osuga said safety in the Strait of Hormuz is crucial to Japan’s energy security as well as to the peace and prosperity of the international community, including Japan.

A Japanese-operated tanker was targeted in a suspected attack Thursday near the Strait of Hormuz. The tanker company said some crewmembers saw “flying objects,” possibly bullets, damage the tanker, not mines. All 21 Filipino sailors on the tanker were rescued.

The Norwegian owner of an oil tanker that caught fire after a suspected attack in the Gulf of Oman said the blaze has been extinguished.

Frontline said the fire was put out on the Front Altair and did not cause any pollution.

The company added that its 23 crew members are still In Iran at Bandar Abbas, though they’ll be repatriated soon.

Frontline CEO Robert Hvide Macleod separately said the company still doesn’t know the cause of the explosion and the fire “but we can exclude that a fault with the ship that has caused this.”

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