Canada calls on Russia to immediately release Ukrainian sailors
Canada has called on the Russian Federation to immediately release the Ukrainian crew captured near the Kerch Strait on November 25, 2018.
"Canada is deeply concerned with Russia's decision to extend the detention of Ukrainian crew captured during recent events near the Kerch Strait and calls for their immediate release. Canada continues to condemn unlawful Russian actions," the Embassy of Canada in Ukraine wrote on Twitter on January 16, 2019.
UNIAN memo. On the morning of 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.
Moscow's Lefortovo district court on January 15, 2019, decided to keep 20 Ukrainian sailors in remand until April 24. Today, January 16, the court extended the detention term for another four Ukrainian sailors.