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Russia’s FSB questiones Ukrainian servicemen detained following Kerch Strait incident

November 26, 21:49 UTC+3

The FSB has posted a video footage of the questioning session

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The Nikopol gunboat, the Berdyansk gunboat, and the Yany Kapu tugboat (L-R) of the Ukrainian Navy tugged to the Kerch Seaport

The Nikopol gunboat, the Berdyansk gunboat, and the Yany Kapu tugboat (L-R) of the Ukrainian Navy tugged to the Kerch Seaport

© Crimean Branch of the Russian Federal Security Service/TASS

MOSCOW, November 26. /TASS/. Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said on Monday it has questioned Ukrainian servicemen who were detained following the incident in the Kerch Strait.

The FSB has posted a video footage of the questioning session. One detained Ukrainian serviceman confessed it was a provocation, as follows from a video footage.

Other Ukrainian servicemen questioned by the FSB said they had been warned about possible consequences of violating the Russian border. "Radio requests (from Russian border guards) were deliberately ignored. There were firearms and machine guns with munitions onboard. I was aware that these were provocative actions," said 3rd Rank Captain Vladimir Lesovoy,  commander of a support vessels division of the Ukrainian South naval base (army unit A-1728). He said he had been ordered to reach Mariupol from Odessa.

Along with Lesovoy, the FSB questioned Andrei Drach,  officer of the 7th main military intelligence directorate of the Ukrainian Security Service who had been onboard the Nikolpol boat, and Sergei Tsybizov, a sailor from the Nikopol.

Thus, Drach said on November 23 he had been ordered to sail from Odessa to Mariupol via the Kerch Strait. "We entered Russia’s territorial waters where the Russian coastal guards warned us that we were violating Russia’s laws. They told us to leave the Russian territorial waters," he said.

Tsybizov, in turn, confirmed Drach’s words. He said that they had sailed from Odessa on the morning on November 23, and were heading towards Berdyansk. When the ships reached Russia’s territorial water,s Russian border guards ordered them to stop and wait for further instructions. "We continued to move. We were contacted by Russian ships which warned us they would open fire if we did not stop, The commander stopped the boat, and we were detained. That’s all," he said.

Ukrainian warships trespassed into Russia’s territorial waters at a direct order from the Kiev authorities, the press service of Russia’s Federal Security Service said.

"The Ukrainian warships entered Russia’s territorial waters at a direct order from the Kiev authorities. The warships trespassed into the Russian territorial water that had enjoyed this status even before Crimea’s reunification with Russia. The provocation was coordinated by two Ukrainian Security Service officers who were aboard the Ukrainian ships," the press service said.

In violation of the rules of passage via Russia’s territorial sea and the Kerch Strait, three warships of the Ukrainian Navy crossed Russia’s state border on November 25. The Russian side had to use weapons to compel the ships to stop. Three Ukrainian servicemen were lightly wounded. They received medical assistance. The ships were detained and escorted to the port of Kerch. A criminal case was initiated on border violation charges.

The Russian side described the incident as a provocation. The Ukrainian authorities declared martial law over the incident. The European Union and NATO have called for de-escalation of the situation.

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