Lawyer Mykola Polozov stated that all Ukrainian sailors captured near the Kerch Strait by Russia said that they are prisoners of war.
“As of 12/27/2018 all 24 Ukrainian sailors stated to the investigation that they are prisoners of war,” wrote Polozov on his Facebook page.
According to him, the injured sailors Andriy Eider and Andriy Artemenko declared their status as prisoners of war to the investigation on Thursday.
On the morning of November 25, Ukraine informed the Russian port of its intention to transfer three ships through the Kerch Strait, as required by the Agreement on the joint use of the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait. However, at around 8:00 a.m., Russian ships carried out acts of provocation against the Ukrainian vessels, even ramming into the Yany Kapu tugboat.
Russia later accused the Ukrainian ships of illegally entering its territorial waters, claiming that they were “maneuvering dangerously” and “not complying with the legitimate demands of the Russian authorities”. Russia also physically blocked the Kerch Strait with a transport ship. The Ukrainian ships decided to return to Odessa, but they were chased and subsequently attacked by the Russian military. The Berdiansk and Nikopol boats were hit, and two crew members were wounded. All three of the ships were seized by Russia.
On November 28, the Kremlin-controlled court of Simferopol placed the Ukrainian sailors under 2 months of arrest – until January 25, 2019.