U.S. Secretary of State urges Russia to release Ukrainian sailors

Washington hopes that Moscow will be able to negotiate with the new government in Ukraine and release Ukrainian sailors who were detained in the Kerch Strait, stated U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Sochi, Interfax reports.

"We want Russia to reach out to the new Ukrainian government to find a way out of this situation. We also urge the Russian government to release the representatives of the crew that were captured in the Kerch Strait," Pompeo said.

On Friday, May 10, at the UN International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg public hearings in the case concerning Russian attack on Ukrainian ships and the capture of Ukrainian sailors began.

During the hearings, Ukraine has accused Russia in violation of the immunities of warships. As a part of a complaint, Ukraine demands to apply temporary measures against the Russian Federation to release Ukrainian soldiers and ships.

It is expected that the decision will be made in about two weeks.

On 25 November last year, Russia attacked and captured the Ukrainian military boats Berdyansk and Nikopol and the tugboat Yany Kapu in neutral waters. All 24 Ukrainians on board were accused of violating the Russian state border, arrested, and transferred from Kerch to Moscow. Ukraine considered this an act of military aggression, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe recognized the captured sailors as prisoners of war.

US President Donald Trump canceled his planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin because of the Kerch Strait incident. US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker similarly called off his scheduled negotiation session with Russian Presidential Aide Vladislav Surkov.

Oleksandr Turchynov, Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said in December that Ukraine had invited its international partners to take part in a passage of naval ships from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov through the Kerch Strait. The Russian media warned that this could “aggravate the situation”.

 

  USA, Pompeo, Russia, Lavrov, Kerch Strait, Crimea, Ukraine, Washington

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