Russia should immediately release Ukrainian POW sailors, as Interfax- Ukraine reported citing U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker.
“There are no grounds for Russia to detain these sailors. They should be returned home to their families immediately,” Volker said.
Volker also noted that the Russian Federation should fulfill the Minsk Agreements.
“It is very important that Russia should begin to fulfill the Minsk Agreements on the east of Ukraine, including the conditions, which it does not fulfill, particularly, the ceasefire, withdrawal of the heavy weaponry, disbanding of the illegal armed formations, withdrawal of the foreign military groupings, provision of the access for the receiving of the humanitarian aid and provision of the unimpeded access to the OSCE Special Mission observers to work on this territory,” Volker said.
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. Ukrainian ships were rejected passage via the Kerch Strait, Russian coast guards opened aimed fire on them.
All 24 sailors on board were captured and delivered to Moscow – 21 of them were delivered to Lefortovo remand center, another - to the hospital of Matrosskaya Tishina prison.
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.
Facing an extension of the sentence term, Ukrainian POWs detained in the Kerch Strait refused to testify in Lefortovo court. Sailors were distributed into six groups, four people in each. On January 15, 2019, Moscow's Lefortovo district court decided to keep 20 Ukrainian sailors in remand until April 24. On January 16, the court extended the detention term for another 4 sailors.
As we reported, lawyer Nikolai Polozov, who deals with the defense of Ukrainian prisoners of war, confirmed that three Ukrainian sailors wounded in the Russian Navy attack on Ukrainian ships were brought from Matrosskaya Tishina to Lefortovo prison in Moscow. He also added that it happened on Monday, January 28.