Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said the three Ukrainian vessels seized by the Russian Federation near the Kerch Strait in November 2018 and later returned to Ukraine will be repaired within three months.
"I am very glad that our military boats are back. As promised, we have both our sailors and boats back," the president said during a working trip to Mykolaiv region, where he visited the base of Ukraine's Navy in Ochakiv, the president's press service reported.
In particular, Zelensky inspected the Ukrainian tugboat "Yany Kapu" and two armored naval boats "Berdyansk" and "Nikopol," which the Russian Federation returned after they were seized near the Kerch Strait in November 2018.
The president said the equipment and weapons on the vessels were partially missing.
"What we saw was a lack of equipment, some weapons were missing. There will be an investigation. We will know every detail," he said.
In addition, Zelensky spoke with the crew of the ships. The president thanked the sailors for their willingness to continue the service.
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 transfer them under Ukrainian control.
On November 20, the naval boats arrived at the Ukrainian port of Ochakiv.
Ukrainian Navy Commander, Admiral Ihor Voronchenko said the Russians had dismantled some communications and navigation equipment from the seized ships.