13:11 18.02.2019

Ukrainian Lunch participants in Munich call on Russia to release POW Ukrainian sailors

2 min read

 Ukraine's international partners in the Ukrainian lunch organized by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation in Munich called on Russia to release the POWs-sailors.

I call for new sanctions, and they should be introduced if Russia does not let the Ukrainian sailors go ... I'm optimistic that this will happen, said Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland supported her Danish counterpart, adding that Canada will continue to make efforts to free them.

If we shout loudly, Lavrov [Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov] will hear us: Free hostages!, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid said.

U.S. State Department Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations also joined the initiative. 'I also call for releasing Ukrainian POWs. Immediately, he said.

As earlier reported, On November 25, 2018, Russian border guards used weapons to stop three Ukrainian naval vessels, the Yany Kapu tug and the Berdiansk and the Nikopol armored gunboats, which were traveling from Odesa to Mariupol in the Kerch Strait. The vessels were escorted to Kerch.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) said the ships entered Russia's territorial waters on orders from Kyiv and described the incident as an act of provocation coordinated by two Ukrainian Security Service officers. Russia also said that Kyiv did not duly notify it that naval vessels were planning to pass through the Kerch Strait.

Kyiv called the border guards' actions unlawful and accused Moscow of violating the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and a treaty between Ukraine and Russia on cooperation in using the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait.

Courts in Simferopol and Kerch remanded the 22 sailors and two Ukrainian Security Service officials in custody until January 25, 2019.

The Ukrainians are charged with "conspiracy by a group of persons or an organized group to illegally cross the border using violence or the threat to use violence." If found guilty, they could face up to six years in prison.

In late November, the Ukrainians were transferred to Moscow. The court extended all the Ukrainians' arrests until April 24.

Kyiv calls the detained sailors prisoners of war.

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