Greenpeace supporters held vigils across the world Saturday in support of 30 activists jailed by Russia after a protest against Arctic oil drilling, sparking a new row between Moscow and the West.

Pressure has been mounting on Russia from both activists and governments shocked by Moscow's decision to level full-blown piracy charges against Greenpeace's Arctic Sunrise crew.

But Moscow displayed few signs of leniency on Saturday as it hit out at both Greenpeace and the Dutch government under whose flag the environmental lobby group's ship sailed.

"Everything that happened with the Arctic Sunrise is a pure provocation," Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov fumed.

The 950-tonne icebreaker was impounded by Russian authorities last month after it approached the world's first oil rig in the pristine Barents Sea -- the focus of energy companies from around the world.

A court in Russia's northwestern region of Murmansk has since charged all crew members -- who come from 18 countries including Britain and the United States -- with charges that carry jail terms of up to 15 years.

The incident has set off a burgeoning diplomatic effort to secure the activists' release despite Russia's tough stance.

The Netherlands broke more than two weeks of silence about the case on Friday by starting legal action aimed at quickly freeing the crew.

Russia's Meshkov fired back on Saturday that the Netherlands had been repeatedly warned about the dangers of the ship's actions.

"In the past year-and-a-half, Russia has asked the Dutch side on many occasions... to forbid this ship's actions," Meshkov told the RIA Novosti news agency.

"Unfortunately, this was not done. So now we have many more questions for the Dutch than they have for us."

But several governments now appear ready to add the Greenpeace detentions to their grown log of complaints about Russia's treatment of human rights issues under President Vladimir Putin.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she expressed concern about her country's crew member during talks with another Russian deputy foreign minister on the sidelines of a regional forum in Bali.

Bishop added that Australia was looking into whether the "very serious charge" was appropriate.

The US State Department also said it was "monitoring the case very closely."

'Free the Arctic 30'

The Greenpeace crew includes a British videographer and a Russian freelance photographer who once worked for AFP.

The ship was captained by Peter Willcox -- a veteran US environmental campaigner who was also at the command of the Rainbow Warrior when that Greenpeace ship was bombed and sunk by French secret services in New Zealand in 1985.

"The activists were taking a brave stand to protect all of us from climate change and the dangers of reckless oil drilling in the Arctic," Greenpeace International's executive Kumi Naidoo said on Saturday.

"Now it’s imperative that millions of us stand up with them to defend the Arctic and demand their immediate release."

The global day of solidarity kicked off in New Zealand and stretched across Russia and Western Europe before its expected conclusion outside Moscow's science and culture centre in Washington.

Greenpeace said hundreds gathered at Hong Kong's main harbour to form a human banner reading "Free the Arctic 30".

Activists in Moscow held a small vigil near the iconic Gorky Park during which they held up posters with photographs of the detainees.

Supporters were also asked to come together outside former apartheid detention centres in South Africa.

Greenpeace sympathisers in the Hague were to march to the International Court of Justice demanding a swift global response.

And still more activities in solidarity with the crew were planned for London and Madrid as well as Paris and a dozen other towns across France.

Demonstrations in Germany were expected across 48 cities and focused on Hamburg and Berlin.

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  • MANILA, PHILIPPINES - JULY 23: Scientists from the University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI) along with Greenpeace activists conduct water sampling on Manila Bay July 23, 2013 in Manila, Philippines. Domestic sewage, toxic industrial waste, leachate from garbage dumps, and runoff from chemical agriculture, converge into what Greenpeace describe as a 'hideous cocktail' reducing Manila Bay into one giant waste dump. Overfishing is also prevalent in the bay with commercial fish cages and small fishers competing for dwindling fish and marine resources that scientists claim already contain high levels of heavy metals and toxic substances. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

  • Greenpeace activists swimming in the river Moselle hold a banner reading 'Radioactivity has no borders' as they demonstrate on August 17, 2013 in Trier, southwestern Germany, against the French nuclear power plants Cattenom and Fessenheim. The demonstration was staged one day after an incident at the Cattenom nuclear power plant, in which hydrochloric acid escaped. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN

  • Greenpeace activists swimming in the river Moselle hold a banner reading 'Radioactivity has no borders' as they demonstrate on August 17, 2013 in Trier, southwestern Germany, against the French nuclear power plants Cattenom and Fessenheim. The demonstration was staged one day after an incident at the Cattenom nuclear power plant, in which hydrochloric acid escaped. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN

  • French gendarmes arrest Greenpeace campaigners at the Tricastin Areva's nuclear power plant in the French southeastern town of Pierrelatte, some 200 kilometres (120 miles) north of Marseille, southern France, after around two dozen activists of the environmental anti-nuclear group snuck into the site on July 15, 2013. Twelve of the activists were arrested more than two hours later, according to the EDF energy giant that runs the country's atomic power plants. Greenpeace members have staged several break-ins at French nuclear plants in recent years in an effort to highlight what they say are dangers of atomic power and to expose security problems at the power stations. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZES

  • LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 11: A member of Greenpeace displays a banner which reads 'Save The Arctic' to a news media helicopter while scaling The Shard, the tallest building in western Europe, on July 11, 2013, in London, England. The six female protesters began their unauthorised ascent of the 310 metre high skyscraper shortly after 4am with the intention of highlighting the environmental damage caused by drilling for oil in the Arctic by Shell. (Photo by Warrick Page/Getty Images)

  • LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 11: Protesters from the environmental charity Greenpeace attempt to scale the tallest building in western Europe, The Shard, in a bid to unveil a giant banner from the top on July 11, 2013 in London, England. The six female protesters began their unauthorised ascent of the 310 metre high skyscraper shortly after 4am with the intention of highlighting the environmental damage caused by drilling for oil in the Arctic by Shell. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

  • A Greenpeace protester climbs to the top of The Shard, the tallest building in western Europe, during a protest against the oil company Shell's drilling in the Arctic, Thursday, July 11, 2013. Six environmental activists scaled Western Europe's tallest building on Thursday to protest drilling in the Arctic by oil companies — and were arrested after reaching the top. It took the female climbers 15 hours to reach the top of the 310-meter (1,017-foot) tower on the south bank of the River Thames in London. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

  • BERLIN, GERMANY - JUNE 26: Activists from the environmental group Greenpeace stage a mock funeral for three dead harbour porpoises, victims of Danish fishing nets on the Baltic sea, in front of a sign reading in German, 'Finally, protect our whales!' during a mock funeral in front of the German federal Agricultural Ministry on June 26, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. According to the group, the harbour porpoise, smaller than most dolphins is the only whale native to Germany's coasts and is threatened by poisonous waters, noise pollution and most importantly Danish fishing nets. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)

  • BERLIN, GERMANY - JUNE 26: Activists from the environmental group Greenpeace bury one of three dead harbour porpoises, victims of Danish fishing nets on the Baltic sea, during a mock funeral in front of the German federal Agricultural Ministry on June 26, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. According to the group, the harbour porpoise, smaller than most dolphins is the only whale native to Germany's coasts and is threatened by poisonous waters, noise pollution and most importantly Danish fishing nets. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)

  • BERLIN, GERMANY - JUNE 26: Activists from the environmental group Greenpeace bury one of three dead harbour porpoises, victims of Danish fishing nets on the Baltic sea, during a mock funeral in front of the German federal Agricultural Ministry on June 26, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. According to the group, the harbour porpoise, smaller than most dolphins is the only whale native to Germany's coasts and is threatened by poisonous waters, noise pollution and most importantly Danish fishing nets. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)

  • Greenpeace ship The Rainbow Warrior is seen docked in Hong Kong on June 21, 2013. The boat is on a two day stop in the former British colony and is opened to the public. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez

  • Kumi Naidoo, of south Africa and international executive director of Greenpeace, smile during an interview with AFP in Manila on June 3, 2013. A billion-dollar-deal to save Indonesia's rainforests has slowed a 'tidal wave' of logging destruction, Greenpeace's global chief said Monday, but he warned much more needed to be done. AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE

  • A Balinese priest throws flowers as he prays after Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior campaigning ship arrived at Benoa port in Denpasar on Indonesia's island resort of Bali on May 31, 2013. The Rainbow Warrior tour of Indonesia is part of the Greenpeace 'Ocean Defender' tour of Southeast Asia. AFP PHOTO / SONNY TUMBELAKA

  • In this Oct. 15, 2010 file photo, the Greenpeace ship 'Arctic Sunrise' is seen in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

  • A member of the environmental group Greenpeace holds a banner that reads "We have no appetite for Genetically Modified Organisms or for your stories" as they stage a protest ouside Agriculture Ministry in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, May 9, 2013. They were protesting the government's policy on GMOs. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

  • A greenpeace activist dressed as a polar bear stands on a wooden block of ice on the Moskva River protesting against plans of oil companies's drilling in the Arctic, with the Kremlin wall in the background, in Moscow , Russia, Monday, April 1, 2013. The placard at left reads: "Save Arctic." (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)

  • An Ultra Orthodox Jewish youth looks at Greenpeace activists as they place a large banner on a rail bridge at the entrance to Jerusalem, Thursday, March 21, 2013. Greenpeace activists protested Thursday against arctic drilling during US President Barack Obama's visit to the region. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

  • Greenpeace activists demonstrate at a Shell petrol station in Wolfgang, near Davos Switzerland, where the 43rd Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, WEF, takes place Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Keystone/Laurent Gillieron)

  • Greenpeace members and small-scale fishermen during a small demonstration against quota, outside the EU Council building in Brussels, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012. The European Union's executive Commission is calling for a new approach to protect dwindling fishery stocks and eliminate a system of setting catch quotas in which scientific advice is widely disregarded. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

  • French activists from the international environmental organization "Greenpeace" demonstrate in front of a fashion store "Zara" in Nice, southeastern France, to protest against hazardous chemicals in clothing, Saturday, Nov.24, 2012. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

  • Members of Greenpeace wear mock hazardous material suits and spray water while demonstrating in front of EU headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2102. Greenpeace demonstrated on Wednesday regarding the cultivation of new genetically modified crops which they say could increase herbicide use by up to 15 times. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

  • Greenpeace activists hold a large banner on Romania's economy ministry facade in Bucharest, Romania, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012. Activists staged a protest against government plans to build new, environment damaging, coal fueled power plants. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

  • A Greenpeace activist, dressed as a polar bear, sits inside a police car after being detained outside Gazprom's headquarters in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. Russian and international environmentalists are protesting against Gazprom's plans to pioneer oil drilling in the Arctic. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

  • This image made available by environmental organization Greenpeace shows Greenpeace activists chained to the anchor chain of the Anna Akhmatova, the vessel which was carrying Gazprom's workers to the Prirazlomnaya platform, in the Pechora Sea about 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) from the nearest port, Murmansk, a city on the extreme northwestern edge of the Russian mainland, Monday Aug. 27, 2012. Gazprom is pioneering Russia's oil drilling in the Arctic. The state-owned company installed the platform there last year and is preparing to drill the first well. Environmentalists have warned that drilling in the Russian Arctic could have disastrous consequences because of a lack of technology to deal with a possible spill in this remote region. (AP Photo/Denis Sinyakov/Greenpeace, HO)

  • This image made available by environmental organization Greenpeace shows Greenpeace activists chained to the anchor chain of the Anna Akhmatova, the vessel which was carrying Gazprom's workers to the Prirazlomnaya platform, in the Pechora Sea about 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) from the nearest port, Murmansk, a city on the extreme northwestern edge of the Russian mainland, Monday Aug. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Denis Sinyakov/Greenpeace, HO)

  • Greenpeace activists are in a boat in front of energy giant Gazprom's Arctic oil platform Prirazlomnaya in the Pechora Sea on Friday, Aug. 24, 2012. Greenpeace activists have stormed a floating oil rig in Russia's Pechora Sea, hundreds of miles (kilometers) from the nearest port, to protest oil drilling in the Arctic, the environmental organization said Friday. (AP Photo/Denis Sinyakov, Greenpeace)

  • Indigenous people from Xavante tribe dance as they visit a Greenpeace ship during the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development at Riocentro, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, June 19, 2012. The Xavantes are claiming their lands, the Maraiwatsede Reservation, that was awarded to the Indians by a federal government order in 1998. But local farmers and ranchers immediately took possession of large portions of it. A local court order in 2001 allowed the settlers to remain on the reservation. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

  • Lucy Lawless

    In this Feb. 24, 2012 file photo provided by Greenpeace, actress Lucy Lawless joins activists in stopping a Shell-contracted drillship from departing the port of Taranaki, New Zealand. Lawless says she has "no regrets" for boarding a ship in a protest action which on Thursday, June 14, 2012 resulted in her pleading guilty to trespass charges. (AP Photo/Greenpeace, File)