Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has thanked Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for helping to evacuate Ukrainian sailors held in Libya since 2016.

"Glad to welcome our sailors, members of the Captain Khayyam tanker's crew, at home after 5 years of detention in Libya! Ukraine never forgets and doesn't leave its people in trouble. Special thanks to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for helping to evacuate our citizens. Ukraine appreciates Turkey's support," Zelensky wrote on Twitter on January 8, 2021.

Read alsoUkraine finalizes prisoner swap listBackground

In February 2016, the Libyan coast guard detained in the territorial waters the Captain Khayyam tanker flying the flag of Sierra Leone. Among the crew members were citizens of Ukraine, Turkey, and Azerbaijan.

In March 2016, the crew was arrested on suspicion of smuggling petroleum products.