Russia returns 3 seized vessels to Ukraine


Moscow has returned three Ukrainian vessels seized last year in a confrontation in the Kerch Strait, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday.

Russia views the incident as an attempt to illegally cross the border, the statement added.

“The transfer became possible due to the fact that the Russian competent authorities have completed the necessary investigative actions against the ships and their presence on the territory of Russia is not required,” the ministry said.

In a separate statement, Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Lana Zerkal confirmed that the vessels are heading to the Ukrainian port of Odessa.

Russia seized last November two Ukrainian navy ships and a tugboat along with 24 crew members for entering its waters in the Kerch Strait, provoking conflict.

An international court ruled in May that Russia should “immediately” return the ships to Ukraine and release sailors.

Russia and Ukraine exchanged prisoners, including the Ukrainian crew in September.
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