HELSINKI, August 29. /TASS/. The Finnish Defense Forces do not comment on the decision to bar Russia’s Kruzenshtern barque from docking at Mariehamn, in the demilitarized province of Aland, Army Communications Chief Eero Karhuvaara told TASS on Tuesday. "I can confirm the ban, but we do not comment on it," he said. According to Karhuvaara, Russian diplomats were informed about the ban.
Meanwhile, sources in the Russian embassy in Finland told TASS that they could not provide more detailed information. "In due course, the Russian embassy’s consular department requested the Finnish authorities to provide permission to the Kruzenshtern to visit the Aland Islands. They rejected the request and refused to clarify their reasons," an embassy spokesman said.
According to earlier reports, the Russian embassy informed the barque’s captain about the decision that the Finnish authorities had made.
In the summer 2017, the Kruzenshtern visited Finland’s Kotka and Turku without facing any issues.
The Hufvudstadsbladet daily reported about the ban on the Russian ship’s visit to Mariehamn on Monday.
The Kruzenshtern, a four-masted barque, was built in Bremerhaven, Germany, in 1926 as the Padua. In 1945, she was surrendered to the Soviet Union as war reparation and renamed after 19th-century Russian admiral and explorer of Baltic Ivan Kruzenshtern.
The Kruzenshtern has been used as a training ship in the past years. Over its 90-year history, the barque has made two round-the-globe voyages, as well as a trans-Atlantic expedition, and won many sailing races, covering an overall distance of 1.3 million nautical miles.
On August 22, the Kruzenshtern, carrying 120 students of seven naval schools from Kaliningrad, Kerch, Yeysk and Astrakhan onboard (ten of them are girls), sailed off from Russia’s westernmost port of Kaliningrad for its third and final voyage of 2017. The ship is expected to visit Germany, France, Poland and Finland before returning home on September 24.