President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky participated in the meeting with six Ukrainian citizens - crew members of Stevia cargo ship, who were captured by pirates in December 2020. This was reported by the press service of the head of state.
During the attack on the ship last year, the pirates captured six Ukrainian sailors, as well as two citizens of Albania.
The Ukrainians were freed at the end of January 2021. They were taken to the city of Port Garkourt, where they underwent the necessary medical examination, and subsequently were transferred to Lagos and Istanbul (Turkey). Today, February 13, they arrived in Kyiv.
“We received information about the seizure. We started working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The kidnappers wanted a lot. But the diplomats did a great job - both the Foreign Ministry and our intelligence officers. A rather complicated combination was made. The people were returned. The operation went brilliantly, because all people are healthy and alive. We know cases when it can last for many years. I think this is a great victory for Ukraine. We are returning everyone, "the head of state said, welcoming the sailors to their homeland.
The President stressed that the return of Ukrainian citizens home is a priority for the Ukrainian state.
"Thanks to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, the Head of the President's Office, all the diplomats who worked in Ukraine and abroad. Our embassy in Nigeria has done a lot, and we have cooperated with Albanian diplomats," he said.
Volodymyr Zelensky also inquired about the conditions in which the pirates kept the Ukrainians. The sailors said that they were kept in the jungle among the mangrove forests, where there were a lot of mosquitoes.
“It was scary. There are twenty people around you with machine guns around the clock,” said one of the sailors, adding that most of the kidnappers were intoxicated.
The president also proposed to send Ukrainians to the Feofania hospital for several days to undergo a medical examination and restore their health.