U.S. to allocate US$10 mln to Ukraine's Navy
The United States will provide Ukraine with an additional US$10 million in aid to strengthen the capabilities of Ukraine's Navy after the Kerch Strait incident.
"In response to Russia's dangerous escalation and unjustified November 25 attack on three Ukrainian naval vessels near the Kerch Strait, the Department of State, subject to Congressional approval, will provide an additional $10 million in Foreign Military Financing to further build Ukraine's naval capabilities," the U.S. Department of State said in a statement on December 21.
As reported, Lithuania and the United Kingdom are also planning to increase their security assistance to Ukraine.
"The United States calls on Russia to immediately return to Ukraine the seized vessels and detained Ukrainian crews, to keep the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov open to ships transiting to and from Ukrainian ports, and to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters," it said.
UNIAN memo. On November 25, Russia blocked the passage to the Kerch Strait for the Ukrainian tugboat "Yany Kapu" and two armored naval boats "Berdyansk" and "Nikopol," which were on a scheduled re-deployment from the Black Sea port of Odesa to the Azov Sea port of Mariupol.
The Ukraine Navy Command noted that the Russian side had been informed of the plans to re-deploy the vessels in advance in accordance with international standards to ensure the safety of navigation. The Russian coast guard ship "Don" rammed the Ukrainian tugboat, damaging the Ukrainian vessel. As the Ukrainian boats were heading back in the Odesa direction after being rejected passage via the Kerch Strait, Russian coast guards opened aimed fire on them.
All 24 crew members on board were captured and later remanded in custody for two months, being charged with "illegal border crossing" (the sailors are facing up to six years in prison). Three crewmen were wounded in the attack. Russian-controlled "courts" in occupied Crimea ruled that all 24 detainees should be remanded in custody, after which they were transferred to the Moscow-based Lefortovo and Matrosskaya Tishina detention centers.