All 24 Ukrainian sailors captured by Russia near the Kerch Strait in the Black Sea on November 25 have declared themselves to be prisoners of war (POW).
"As of December 27, all 24 captured Ukrainian sailors told the investigation that they were prisoners of war," Russian lawyer Nikolai Polozov, who defends the Ukrainians in a pool of lawyers, wrote on Facebook.
The last two sailors, Andriy Eyder and Andriy Artemenko, who were wounded during Russia's attack on their boats, announced their POW status on Thursday, December 27.
As UNIAN reported earlier, Russia on November 25 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.