Ukraine Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ihor Voronchenko is positive that Ukraine will eventually return the naval boats attacked and seized by the Russian coast guards in neutral waters off the Crimea coast on Nov 25 after Russia illegally rejected their passage through the Kerch Strait.
Asked whether he believes the move to redeploy the boats to the Azov Sea through the Kerch strait instead of transporting them by land was an erroneous decision, Voronchenko said: "No, I don't," according to an UNIAN correspondent.
He added that the Russians had no right to open fire on the Ukrainian vessels.
Elaborating on why the decision to deploy the boats had been taken, the Navy commander recalled that "firstly, there had already been a [successful] passage through the Kerch Strait of support vessels. This was the same thing. The group of boats was moving with a tugboat – a support vessel. Secondly, we had to show our face – not to close it – in the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov, and to show what these boats are capable of," Voronchenko told journalists.
As UNIAN reported, on Nov 25, three Ukrainian vessels were attacked and captured by Russian coast guards near the Kerch Strait, which is the only passage to the Sea of Azov where two major Ukrainian ports – Mariupol and Berdiansk – are located.
Russia-controlled "courts" in the occupied Crimea ruled that the 24 Ukrainian crew they be remanded in custody for two months, pending trial.