Ukraine must “publicly acknowledge its provocation” before Russia will give back the naval vessels it captured near the Kerch Strait, said Sergey Tsekov, a member of Russia’s Federation Council, as cited by TASS.
“Ukraine, as far as I know, still has not publicly acknowledged the fact of its provocation in the Kerch Strait. I think that’s exactly what they should have done. And afterwards, they could talk about property,” Tsekov remarked.
He said that the ships could still “be of interest to the investigation”, but emphasized that the Russian government “has no desire to waste money keeping someone else’s property”.
Vadym Prystaiko said previously that Ukraine has sent another memorandum to Russia, demanding to know where and when the vessels that were seized in last year’s Kerch Strait incident could be collected.
On 25 November 2018, Russian border guards seized three Ukrainian ships in the neutral waters of the Black Sea. The crews of the two artillery boats and one tugboat (24 people) were taken to Simferopol, Crimea, where the Russia-controlled court placed all the Ukrainians under arrest.
On 25 May this year, the UN’s International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ruled that Russia must release all the Ukrainian sailors and return the three ships. Russia has said that it will not comply with the tribunal’s demands.
On the same day, a court in Moscow rejected the appeals of the Ukrainian prisoners of war and ordered that they remain in custody until the end of July.
On September 7, Russia released all captured Ukrainian sailors as part of the prisoner swap with Ukraine.