The Russian Federation has not yet returned the three ships it seized from Ukraine near the Kerch Strait in November 2018 as they are in bad condition now.

"Russia has not yet complied with an order by the International Tribunal to return the ships. But, according to my information, there are shifts in this matter, the Russian authorities are ready to transfer the ships. The only problem is the technical condition of the ships," Nikolay Polozov, a lawyer of the freed Ukrainian sailors who were the crewmembers of the ships, told the Ukrainian news outlet Krym.Realii. "Therefore, now, according to my information, they are bringing them to such a condition that they can be afloat and we expect that they will be transferred exactly by the end of the year."

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As UNIAN reported earlier, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said on October 11 that "there is interaction" between Russia and Ukraine and the process of returning the ships captured by Russia is already "at the final stage."

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) on May 25 ordered Russia to immediately release the three vessels and return them under Ukrainian control. Russia refused to comply with the order. It was reported on June 25 that the ships disappeared from the Genmol berth in the Russian occupied city of Kerch on the Crimean peninsula, where they had been for months.

UNIAN memo. On the morning of November 25, 2018, 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. All 24 crew members on board were captured and charged with "illegal border crossing" under Part 3 of Article 322 of the Criminal Code of Russia (imprisonment for up to six years). Later the Ukrainian sailors were freed and returned to Ukraine in a major prisoner swap between Ukraine and Russia on September 7, 2019.