The Russian border patrol detained the Greenpeace icebreaker Arctic Sunrise after the environmental group decided to enter Arctic waters to protest oil exploration in the region despite Moscow's denial of authorization.

Greenpeace said Monday on its Web site that a patrol boarded the ship without the captain's permission.

Border agents stopped the ship after Greenpeace activists in inflatable boats approached the seismic exploration vessel Geolog Dmitri Nalivkin, leased by Russian state oil giant Rosneft and ExxonMobil, with banners reading "Save the Arctic!"

Administrators of the Moscow-controlled Northern Sea Route rejected repeated requests from the Arctic Sunrise to enter the route headed for the Kara Sea, citing technical concerns that Greenpeace claims are specious.

Maria Favorskaya, Greenpeace spokeswoman in the Russian capital, said Sunday that the Arctic Sunrise had reached the Kara Sea to protest the drilling for gas and oil in the Arctic.

"We came here to expose preparations for oil drilling and what we ended up exposing was that, and something else - the efforts of the Russian authorities to defend oil interests," Christy Ferguson, a Canadian crew member on the Arctic Sunrise, said Monday as the ship set course for Norwegian territorial waters. EFE