Zelensky to families of seamen captured by Russia: "They will be released soon"

21:20, 14 June 2019
Politics
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president.gov.ua

Zelensky stressed he was keeping the situation under control.

He also recalled the decision of the United Nations International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in this case.

"We are confident that the steps we are taking now will soon give us the opportunity to return the sailors," said Zelensky.

Read alsoMoscow court extends Ukrainian sailors' detention until end of July

During the meeting, the issue of supporting seamen's families was raised, including their housing.

A draft law was discussed that provides for the provision to the captured crew the status of combatants.

The president noted that due to the incapacity of the current Verkhovna Rada, the adoption of this bill at this stage is impossible.

He expressed his conviction that the draft law would be considered by the people's deputies of the new convocation.

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.

Read alsoUkraine calls on NATO to develop strategic deterrence capabilities in Black Sea

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.

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