Ukraine initiates criminal cases against Russian military after the incident in the Kerch Strait

Commanders of the Southern Military District and the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation, as well as five employees of the FSB Border Service are suspected of "conducting an aggressive war" against Ukraine. 

The Prosecutor General’s Office and the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) announced that seven more Russian servicemen and the FSB border guard officers will be investigated in connection with the incident in the Kerch Strait. They are suspected of planning, preparing, initiating and waging a war of aggression, as well as committing a collusive crime, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said on Monday, February 25. 

Among the accused are Alexander Dvornikov, the commander of the Southern Military District of the Russian Federation, Alexander Moiseyev, the commander of the Black Sea Fleet, and five officers of the FSB Border Department for the Russian annexed Crimea. 

“The listed servicemen of the Border Guard Service of the FSB of the Russian Federation and other military officials of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation coordinated and organized the attack of the warships of the Russian Federation on the Ukrainian sailors through artillery shelling and ramming of the Ukrainian ships, as a result of which our military were wounded and captured together with military equipment,” the statement reads. 

In addition, the SBU indicated that “illegal aggressive actions against Ukrainian sailors” during the incident near the Kerch Strait in late November 2018 were carried out by the direct order and under the supervision of Gennady Medvedev, Deputy Head of the Border Service of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, and Sergey Stankevich, Head of the Border Management of the Federal Security Service of the Crimea. The pre-trial investigation is in process, the statement said. 

On November 27, the SBU and the Military Prosecutor's Office announced that they have similar suspicions against eight Russian military. These officers of the Border Guard Service of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation were wanted in early December.

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”.

  Russia, Ukraine, Kerch Strait, Sea of Azov, SBU, FSB