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Bolton’s statement cannot interfere in investigation of Ukrainian sailors, says Kremlin

Earlier, US National Security Advisor John Bolton said the next meeting between Trump and Putin will not take place while Moscow still holds Ukrainian military vessels detained in the Kerch Strait
US presidential national security adviser John Bolton AP Foto/Cliff Owen
US presidential national security adviser John Bolton
© AP Foto/Cliff Owen

MOSCOW, December 13. /TASS/. US presidential national security adviser John Bolton’s statement to the effect it is impossible to hold a meeting of Russian and US presidents, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, at the moment is not a reason for interference in the investigation of Ukrainian sailors.

"It goes without saying that such an opinion [voiced by Bolton] cannot be a reason enough for intervention in the investigation of intruders responsible for the violation of Russia’s state border," Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the media.

Peskov agreed that three Ukrainian boats and their crews were incomparable in terms of importance to Putin-Trump talks on major international problems.

"For this reason we hope, of course, that the United States will arrive at the same conclusion," Peskov said. "Progress in the investigation and a court verdict, if it comes to that, may influence the fate of the Ukrainian crews," he said.

As Bolton said, the US Administration believed that another personal meeting between Trump and Putin would be impossible as long as Moscow held Ukraine’s naval ships intercepted in the Kerch Strait.

"I don’t see circumstances in the foreseeable future where such a meeting could take place until the ships and crews are released," Bolton told reporters.

On November 25, three Ukrainian naval ships violated the rules of crossing Russia’s territorial waters on the way from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov. Weapons were used for stopping them in the Kerch Strait. Three Ukrainian military servicemen were slightly hurt and given medical assistance.

The ships were detained and brought to Kerch. Russia opened a criminal case over the incident. Moscow slammed the incident as a provocation. The Ukrainian authorities initiated the introduction of martial law. The European Union and NATO called for de-escalation of tensions. The crew members - 24 Ukrainian citizens - have been remanded in custody till January 25. They have been taken from Simferopol to a detention center in Moscow. All face charges under Part 3 of Article 322 of the Criminal Code (illegal crossing of Russia’s state border).