Ukrainian President Poroshenko refuses to accept ships from Russia unless Crimea is returned

Ukraine will not accept Russia’s offer to return Ukrainian military ships remaining in the Crimea without also receiving the return of the peninsula, stated during a press conference Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, a video of which was published on 112 Ukraine’s YouTube channel.

"We are ready to receive ships from Crimea. It is not important what repairs [are needed]. We are ready to receive the ships from Crimea, but only together with the Crimea," Poroshenko said.

In January, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia was ready to return military equipment remaining after the annexation of Crimea back to Kyiv. At the same time, he noted that the equipment "is in a deplorable state". "It was practically in that [condition], [and] during these years nobody serviced [it]," Putin said. The Russian president explained that the equipment could be delivered to Odessa and transferred to the Ukrainian military.

In response to Putin's statement, Ukrainian Prime Minister Vladimir Groysman invited Moscow "to return the Crimea together with the fleet." "We are ready to accept [the two] in the near future," he added.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin also reacted negatively to the Russian President’s statement and saw it as a "trick" by Moscow. Klimkin suggested Putin wanted to show through this political move that a dialogue between Russia and Ukraine on the status of the Crimea exists. "We have no dialogue on any issues relating to the status of the Crimea, and we will not do anything that could weaken our political or legal position," the Minister said.

First Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) of Ukraine Mykhailo Koval addressed this question again in mid-February. He said that Russia "captured these ships like pirates" and would surrender them through the court. At the same time, Koval demanded that Russia repair the equipment before the transfer.

Approximately seventeen Ukrainian Navy ships remained on the peninsula after the accession of the Crimea to Russia, including the submarine Zaporozhye, nearly two dozen T-64 tanks, BMP and BTR, and more than ten MiG-29, MiG-29UB and L- 39M1 combat aircraft.

  Crimea, Ukrainian ships, Poroshenko