UPDATE: The Russian Foreign Ministry denied Wednesday that a Russian ship seized by Nigerian authorities had been smuggling weapons.
"The vessel, which visited Nigeria to conduct repairs, replenish stocks, and replace the crew, was temporarily detained by Nigerian authorities for inspection, because it had a certain amount of firearms and ammunition on board necessary to ensure security during its operations," the ministry said in a statement.
It was stressed that the weapons were properly registered and necessary for the ship's normal operations.
“The Nigerian officials were promptly notified about the weapons on board through the ship’s agent in the port of Lagos, therefore any claims about an attempt to smuggle arms into the country are ungrounded,” the Ministry spokesman said. "Arms smuggling is not an issue."
The Myre Seadiver was detained in the port of Lagos on suspicion of arms smuggling.
The ship belongs to Moscow-based Moran Security Group and operates under a Dutch flag. Moran has not commented on the incident.
A cache of weaponry, including 14 Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles with about 5,000 rounds of ammunition, was discovered on board. The ship was carrying the arsenal of weaponry to ensure protection from pirates who frequently attack ships along the Nigerian coast, Deputy General Director of Moran Security Group said on Tuesday.
The ship has been moved to a nearby naval base.
Russian diplomats in Nigeria have taken all the necessary steps to clarify the situation and will meet with officials from the Nigerian Navy on Wednesday to negotiate the release of the ship, the spokesman said.
The Foreign Ministry said the Russian crew members are "in good health, provided with all the necessary supplies including a telephone connection with Russia and access to the Internet."
The 15 members of the crew, mostly Russians, remain on board awaiting further developments in the situation.