Russia may release Ukrainian sailors detained in Kerch Strait by end of August

The exchange of detainees between Russia and Ukraine will take place before the end of August, including sailors detained in the Kerch Strait in November, reports the newspaper Kommersant .

According to the publication, the lists of detainees are still under review. In addition to sailors, other detainees could be transferred to Ukraine. It is unknown whether Russia considers the possibility of transfer to Ukraine the imprisoned director Oleg Sentsov, who was sentenced in Russia to 20 years of prison on charges of terrorism.

In turn, the Ukrainian side may hand over former editor-in-chief of RIA Novosti—Ukraine Kirill Vyshinsky to Russia, who was arrested in May last year on charges of high treason.

The interlocutor of Kommersant claims that the agreement on the exchange was reached after the first telephone conversation between the presidents of Russia and Ukraine, which took place on July 11.

On 25 November 2018, Russian border guards seized three Ukrainian ships in the neutral waters of the Black Sea. The crews of the two artillery boats and one tugboat (24 people) were taken to Simferopol, Crimea, where the Russia-controlled court placed all the Ukrainians under arrest. The following day, the sailors were relocated to Moscow, where they remain to this day.

On 25 May this year, the UN’s International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ruled that Russia must release all the Ukrainian sailors and return the three ships. Russia has said that it will not comply with the tribunal’s demands.

On the same day, a court in Moscow rejected the appeals of the Ukrainian prisoners of war and ordered that they remain in custody until the end of July.

  Russia, Ukraine, Kerch Strait