Merkel, Macron demanding Russia release captured Ukrainian seamen
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on December 28 made a joint statement, in which they demanded that Russia should release the Ukrainian naval seamen captured during an incident in the Kerch Strait on November 25.
"We demand safe, free and unimpeded transit for all ships through the Kerch Strait and the immediate and unconditional release of all illegally detained Ukrainian seafarers," Merkel and Macron said in a joint statement.
"They too should be able to celebrate the upcoming festivities with their families," they added.
Merkel and Macron added: "The human rights situation in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in violation of international law, and the use of military force by Russia in the Straits of Kerch and abusive controls in the Sea of Azov are also a source of great concern to us."
As earlier reported, on November 25, Russian border guards attacked and captured three Ukrainian naval vessels en route from Odesa to Mariupol near the Kerch Strait. The crews were then arrested and transported to Moscow. They are charged with illegal border crossing.
Kyiv has said Russia violated the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Ukraine-Russia Treaty on Cooperation in Using the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait.