Denmark's Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen has warned the European Union may impose new sanctions on Russia over the capture of Ukrainian sailors near the Kerch Strait in November 2018.
"Russia still detains 24 Ukrainian seamen. If not released soon #EU will have to look into sanctions against Russia. Unacceptable behaviour at the Sea of Azov," Samuelsen wrote on Twitter on January 21.
As was reported, the EU Council on January 21 imposed sanctions against the chief of the GRU of the Russian Federation and his deputy, as well as against two intelligence officers involved in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military officer and double agent for the UK's intelligence services, and his daughter in Salisbury, the UK.
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. On January 16, the court extended the detention term for another four Ukrainian sailors until the end of April.