During a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky noted the importance of the fact that Russia returned to Ukraine the ships that were captured in Kerch Strait last year. At the same time, in a statement published on Facebook, Zelensky said that it is necessary to return all equipment and documentation that were taken from the ships..
The Kremlin's press service confirmed the conversation between the two presidents.
Boats Berdyansk, Nikopol, as well as the Yana Kapu tug were returned to Ukraine a year after the incident in the Black Sea. Then three Ukrainian ships, as well as members of their crews, were detained by the Russian Federal Security Service.
As it was reported earlier, Ukraine received boats without some of the equipment. There were no weapons, ammunition, computers, and radio navigation equipment. Nikolai Polozov, the lawyer of captured Ukrainian sailors, explained that all these items are material evidence on a criminal case. According to him, the final decision on the seized equipment should be made by the court.
Earlier, Zelensky, on a video message published on Facebook, promised to appeal to Russia to return equipment that was seized from the ships.
On November 20, Ukrainian Vice Admiral and a commander of the Ukrainian Navy Ihor Voronchenko said that even toilets and dome lights were missing in the ships.
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.
On September 6, Russia released the Ukrainian sailors during the prisoner swap with Ukraine.