MOSCOW, August 20 (RIA Novosti) - NATO assistance significantly facilitated the search and rescue of the Arctic Sea cargo vessel seized in the Atlantic by a group of hijackers in late July, the Russian NATO envoy said on Thursday.
The Maltese-flagged vessel, which had been missing in the Atlantic for more than two weeks, was found off Cape Verde on Monday with 15 Russian crewmembers and eight suspected hijackers on board. The vessel was freed by the Russian Ladny missile frigate without a single shot being fired.
"During our first meeting on August 11, the new NATO secretary general offered to use NATO assets, including the integrated maritime monitoring system which helps the alliance to track the movement of vessels in the sea, in search for the ship," Dmitry Rogozin said in an interview with the Echo Moskvy radio.
Rogozin said NATO started providing Russia with reliable and timely information on the Arctic Sea's whereabouts on August 12, which helped the Russian Navy to plan and coordinate the efforts in the rescue of the ship.
"I believe that the cooperation with NATO and the alliance's informational support helped us to direct our warship to the target [the Arctic Sea] with great precision and to successfully conduct the hostage-rescue operation," the diplomat said.
He also suggested that this experience should be analyzed at a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council and used in joint efforts to ensure safety of international shipping.
Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who took office on August 1, reiterated on Thursday his earlier pledge to improve relations with Russia and make cooperation with Moscow a top priority.