Russia Returns Ukraine Navy Ships Taken in November 2018 Kerch Strait Incident
Nov. 18, 2019 (EIRNS)—The Ukrainian naval vessels, two gunboats and a tug, captured by the Russian FSB border service in the Kerch Strait on Nov. 25, 2018, are now back in the hands of the Ukrainian government. The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement reporting the handover this morning, reports TASS. Ukraine’s new government had asked that the ships be handed back before the Normandy Four summit with France and Germany.
“Russia is determined to firmly resist any provocations near its borders in order to maintain the safety of shipping in accordance with Russian legislation, bilateral treaties and other applicable norms of international law,” the Foreign Ministry wrote. The Ministry also stated that the vessels were no longer needed as evidence in the Russian investigation of the Nov. 25, 2018 incident.
“We would like to point out once again that the Kiev authorities’ orders to their servicemen to carry out provocative actions in November 2018 were a crime not only against the sovereignty of Russia, but also against Ukrainian citizens, who were intentionally put at risk and coerced into committing legal violations,”
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry confirmed that it now has the three vessels in its custody. “As of this moment, the Ukrainian Titan and Haydamaky tugboats and the Sapfir search-and-rescue boat are moving toward mainland Ukraine together with the gunships and the tug,” the Ukrainian Navy command said in a statement, reported Interfax Ukraine.