The European Union calls on Russia to set the detained Ukrainian sailors free. This is the key message in the statement by Maja Kocijancic, the press secretary of the European External Action Service.
'We expect Russia to immediately and unconditionally release the 24 captured Ukrainian sailors, to respect their right to legal representation and unhindered access by consular authorities, and to ensure that the injured crewmen receive appropriate medical treatment', says the statement.
Kocijancic reminded that Leforovo city court of Moscow has extended the arrest period for all 24 detainees who suffered the Russian Navy attack in Kerch Strait on November 25, 2018. Besides, the statement also said that the European Union Delegation in Moscow along with 15 EU diplomatic missions 'were denied the right to observe the proceedings at the Lefortovo Moscow City Court'.
The EU also expressed expectations that Russia would provide free and non-restricted access across the Kerch Strait to and from Sea of Azov, in accordance with the international law.
On November 25, the coast guard ships of the Russian Navy attacked the ships of the Ukrainian Navy, which have been carrying out a scheduled transition from Odesa port to Mariupol port in the Sea of Azov.
21 Ukrainian sailors have been delivered to Lefortovo remand center in Moscow, three others are in the hospital of Matrosskaya Tishina prison, also in the Russian capital. On December 3, the Russian prosecutors officially accused Ukrainian sailors with the 'illegal crossing of the state border' during the attack in the Kerch Strait.
On December 26, Crimean Supreme Court left all Ukrainian sailors under arrest.
On January 15, the Ukrainian sailors refused to testify in Lefortovo court, where they face an extension of the sentence term.
On January 16, Lefortovo court has extended the arrest period for all Ukrainian sailors who suffered the attack of the Russian Navy in the Kerch Strait in November.