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Court will decide future of detained Ukrainian sailors, says Russia's top diplomat

December 07, 14:38 UTC+3 MILANO

Lavrov stated that the detained Ukrainian sailors have violated international and Russian laws

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© Alexei Pavlishak/TASS

MILANO, December 7. /TASS/. The future of Ukrainian sailors, detained late last month for allegedly violating a Russian state border, will be decided after a court trial, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday.

"As soon as the investigation is over, a court trial will follow," Lavrov told journalists. "We will be able to speak about ways of facilitating their fate or of reaching an agreement on definite steps only after the court brings out its decision."

Russia’s top diplomat added that the Ukrainian sailors "are currently under an investigation, Russia’s High Commissioner for Human Rights [Tatyana Moskalkova] is in permanent contact with them, they have an access to [Ukrainian] Consular services, they are feeling well and nothing poses a threat to their health."

Lavrov stated that the detained Ukrainian sailors have "violated the international and Russian laws."

"They have illegally entered the territorial waters of Russia, never left them, refused to reply to requests," the minister said. "This is a crime recognized by any country."

"For instance, there is a directive regarding the state border between the United States and Mexico to shoot to kill anyone attempting to cross it illegally," he said. "We [Russia] have never acted this way."

On November 25, three Ukrainian naval ships violated the procedure for passing through Russia’s territorial waters while sailing from the Azov to the Black Sea.

After having breached the Russian border, the three Ukrainian warships were warned by Russia’s maritime security forces to stop. The intruding vessels ignored the demands, thereby evoking a chase involving gunfire in the Kerch Strait whereupon three Ukrainian navy sailors ended up lightly wounded.

They were later given medical assistance. Consequently, the Ukrainian warships were detained and brought to Kerch. A criminal case has been opened into the violation of the Russian state border.

Russia has branded Ukraine’s stunt a provocation, while the Ukrainian authorities have exploited the incident to impose martial law. The European Union and NATO have called for de-escalating the situation.

The Ukrainian ships’ crew members, 24 Ukrainian nationals, have been arrested until January 25, 2019, and transferred from Crimea’s Simferopol to Moscow earlier this month.

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