Russia will soon return Ukrainian warships that it captured near the Kerch Strait in November 2018. This was announced by Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko in an interview with Radio Liberty.
According to him, "there is interaction" between Russia and Ukraine, and the process of returning the ships is already "at the final stage".
"We are now at the final stage of the transfer of these ships. They will be returned soon. Technical issues are being discussed by the naval command. Our task, as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is to let the process be completed", – Prystaiko noted.
He added that Ukraine had already informed the Russian party after completing certain stages of the negotiations that "we are ready – what are the coordinates where these ships will be and the time when we can take our ships back?"
"We want to see in what condition these ships will be handed over to us, whether, for example, marks from the shots that were fired at our ships remained on them. Something tells me that they will not be there at the time we take them back, but this process will happen in the near future", – Prystaiko said.
In addition, the Foreign Minister stressed that Ukraine does not recognize Russia's compliance with the decision of the UN International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea regarding the immediate release of Ukrainian sailors and ships.
"We also do not recognize the fulfillment by the Russian party of the return of the sailors, it did not take place at by order of the court. They should be returned long ago without any extradition by us of the desired by the Russian party (persons - ed.). But, unfortunately, it happened, we could not wait for our people to sit in Russian prisons, and wait for Russia to comply with the decision of the International Tribunal", – Prystaiko said.
Earlier, commander of the Navy Ihor Voronchenko stated that Russia had given the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea false information about the return of 3 Ukrainian warships captured in the Kerch Strait.
As previously reported, on November 25, 2018, Russia blocked the passage to the Kerch Strait to the Yany Kapu tugboat and Berdiansk and Nikopol motor boats, which carried out planned transition from Odessa to Mariupol. The occupants captured 24 Ukrainian servicemen. Three of them were injured. Ukrainians were accused of illegally crossing the border of the Russian Federation. On April 16, Ukraine appealed to the UN International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea with a view to free prisoners and ships.
On May 25, 2019, the UN court issued a decision on the application of provisional measures in the case of Ukraine's lawsuit against the Russian Federation. The court ordered Russia to release 24 Ukrainian sailors and ships.
On September 7, Ukraine and Russia exchanged prisoners in the format 35 to 35. Attorney Nikolai Polozov reported that the Russian Federation released Ukrainian sailors under the personal recognizance of authorized representative of the Verkhovna Rada on human rights Lyudmyla Denisova.