The Embassy of the United States of America in Ukraine has called on the Russian Federation to immediately release 24 Ukrainian sailors, who have been held captive for 75 days.
"On November 25, 2018, Russia attacked and detained 24 Ukrainian sailors who were travelling through international and Ukrainian waters. They have been prisoners for 75 days. Not only did Russia illegally detain 24 Ukrainian sailors, it wounded three of them in the attack. Unacceptable," the Embassy said in its video address posted on Facebook on February 7.
"Russia, release all the Ukrainian sailors immediately," it said.
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 in the middle of January 2019, ruled to keep the Ukrainian sailors in remand until the end of April 2019.