Kiev stakes claim on Viking sword smuggled from Russia

Ukraine seeks to prevent the return of a rusted Viking sword back to Russia.

The sword was retrieved by Estonian customs officials during a routine search of one of the cargo trucks at a border crossing with Russia. The driver, a Belarus citizen, was apparently trying to smuggle the artifact out of the country to Western Europe in order to sell it, RIA Novosti reports.

Estonian authorities determined that their find is a 10-11 century sword that was likely discovered in northern Russia. Despite the fact that the blade is rusted and its exact origin is unclear, after a proper restoration it could be worth up to 17,000 euros.

However, before Tallinn was able to return the sword back to Russia, it was confronted by Ukraine’s chief authority on all matters archaeological – the country’s Foreign Ministry.

The Ukrainian diplomats claimed that the sword was allegedly discovered in the Volyn region of the country, and therefore Estonia shouldn’t return it to Russia just yet.

Kiev’s ambassador to Estonia Viktor Kryzhanovsky said that after consulting an article about the sword posted on Ukraine’s museum web portal, he became convinced that the artifact should remain in Estonia until its origins can be verified.