Ukrainian consul to visit jailed sailors in Russia this week – Ukrainian Foreign Ministry
A Ukrainian consul will visit the Lefortovo detention facility in Moscow in order to meet with the sailors who were captured by Russian border guards during an incident in the Kerch Strait last November, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry's spokesperson Kateryna Zelenko said on Wednesday.
"We recently obtained permission from the Lefortovo administration for a Ukrainian consul to visit the Ukrainian prisoners of war today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow," Zelenko said at a briefing in Kyiv.
The Ukrainian side still has no official information on the real health condition of the sailors, she said, urging Russia to release them immediately.
Earlier, Nikolai Polozov, who is leading a team of defense lawyers, said that as of March 12, 14 of the sailors had been referred for an outpatient psychological-psychiatric examination.
On November 25, 2018, Russian border guards used weapons to stop three Ukrainian naval vessels, the Yany Kapu tug and the Berdyansk 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 Ukraine had not duly notified it that naval vessels were planning to pass through the Kerch Strait.
Ukraine 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 24 Ukrainian sailors in custody. In late November they were transferred to Moscow.
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.
Ukraine refers to the detained sailors prisoners of war.