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MOSCOW, March 6 (RIA Novosti) - Two Russians and a Romanian captured by pirates off the coast of west Africa last month are still alive, and talks are being held with their abductors for their release, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
“Talks are currently being held with the kidnappers through a company hired by the ship owner, which specializes in such issues,” ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told reporters. “There has been a confirmation that all the hostages are alive.”
In early February, Nigerian pirates seized the British-owned 8,000 ton cargo ship MV Esther C off Cameroon in the Gulf of Guinea. Two Russians and a Romanian crew member, who were on board, were taken from the vessel as hostages, the ship's operator Carisbrooke Shipping said.
The ship later resumed its voyage, with the remaining crew of nine Filipinos reported by the company to be safe and unharmed.
The incident is not the first in which Russians have been abducted off Cameroon. Two Russians onboard the Greek-owned vessel North Spirit were captured by pirates in Cameroon's largest port of Douala in mid-May 2010, but released in July that year after the Greek shipping company paid a ransom.
West Africa is one of the world's most dangerous areas for piracy, according to the International Chamber of Commerce's Maritime Bureau.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.