KIEV, December 10. /TASS/. The Donbass command ship of the Ukrainian navy did not enter any restricted zones during its voyage on Thursday and is now returning to the base, the press service of Ukraine’s United Forces Operation headquarters said.
"The Ukrainian navy’s Donbass ship did not enter sensitive zones. The warship is fulfilling assignments in its domestic territorial waters. At present, the Donbass is returning to the base," the press service said in a statement, posted on Facebook.
In turn, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Alexei Reznikov said the command ship had legitimate reasons to sail in the Azov Sea. In his words, the ship had no weapons on board.
Reznikov told the 1+1 TV channel that Thursday’s events posed no threat to the ship or its crew.
"I would like to inform everyone that there is no danger for our crew or the ship. The vessel has practically returned to the port, there were no incidents," he said.
According to the Russian security service, the Donbass command ship of the Ukrainian Navy left the port city of Mariupol at 09:12 Moscow time on Thursday, heading towards the Kerch Strait. The Ukrainian side filed no requests for sailing through the Kerch-Yenikale Canal, a maritime route in the Kerch Strait connecting the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. At 13:45, a Russian coast guard ship warned the Donbass that it must comply with the Russian law and apply for a permission to navigate the Kerch-Yenikale Canal. The ship’s crew replied that it did not plan to sail via the Kerch Strait. However, the vessel kept sailing towards the Kerch Strait and ignored commands to change course.