Commander of the Ukrainian Navy Ihor Voronchenko has said the naval boats seized by Russia near the Kerch Strait and later returned to Ukraine are in terrible condition and cannot sail on their own.
"The towing is underway, the speed is very low. They cannot sail on their own – Russians have turned them into a wreck. Even the ceiling lights, sockets and toilet bowls have been plucked from there. So now we will show the entire world the Russians' barbaric attitude," he told Ukrainian TV Channel 4.
According to Voronchenko, the ships are now approaching the Ukrainian territorial waters. They are expected to arrive at their destination in about 16 hours.
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.
The ITLOS on May 25 ordered Russia to immediately release the three vessels and return them under Ukrainian control.
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 was "at the final stage."
On November 17, Russia began moving the Ukrainian naval boats from the Genmol water area in Russian-occupied Kerch before their handover to Ukraine.
The vessels are now on their way to the Ukrainian port city of Odesa. Their speed is 12.5 km per hour.