U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters that Russia's seizure of three Ukrainian vessels was a "a flagrant violation of international law" and that "it just shows that Russia cannot be counted on right now to keep its word."
"It was obviously a flagrant violation of international law, it was I think a cavalier use force that injured Ukrainian sailors," Mattis told reporters, CNN reported. "It was contempt, really, for the traditional ways of settling these kinds of concerns if they had any. When you think there is a treaty between the two countries that prohibits exactly what happened, it just shows that Russia cannot be counted on right now to keep its word."
As UNIAN reported, three Ukrainian vessels were captured on November 25 by Russian forces at sea near the Kerch Strait, which is the only outlet to the Sea of Azov and controls access to two major Ukrainian ports. The two Ukrainian artillery boats and a tugboat were heading from Odesa on the Black Sea to Mariupol on the Sea of Azov. Twenty-four sailors were detained and "courts" in Russian-occupied Crimea ruled that they be detained for two months, pending trial.