MOSCOW, November 4. /TASS/. Ukraine will have to admit its provocation in the Kerch Strait in order to start negotiations about the return of its ships from Russia, a member of the Federation Council (upper house of Russia’s parliament), Sergei Tsekov, told TASS on Monday.
"As far as I know, Ukraine has not yet made a public statement on the fact of provocation staged in the Kerch Strait. I believe that this should have been done. And only afterwards, the issue of property should be raised," the senator said commenting on Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadim Pristaiko’s words that Kiev had submitted another note of protest to Moscow demanding the boats back.
The senator pointed out that the investigators might still have interest in the ships and underlined that the Russian authorities do not want to waste money on storing others’ property.
Earlier in the day, Pristaiko said that Kiev had submitted another note of protest to Moscow demanding that the venue and timeframe be provided to have the ships, which were detained in the Kerch Strait incident last year, returned.
The senator from Crimea, Olga Kovitidi told TASS that Ukraine was using the ships for a political demarche.
"Ukraine has never pursued goals of releasing either the sailors or the ships. Ukraine needs a political demarche. Ukraine is again staging a political provocation, thinking neither about its property nor about their people," Kovitidi said.
She pointed out that Crimea is still keeping Ukrainian naval ships abandoned after the Black Sea peninsula’s reunification with Russia.
"Remains of the Ukrainian fleet have been rusting in Crimea since 2014, but persistent requests to take them back are ignored by Ukraine," the senator added.
Kerch Strait incident
On November 25, 2018, three Ukrainian naval ships violated the navigation rules for warships in Russia’s territorial waters when entering the Sea of Azov from the Black Sea via the Kerch Strait. The Russian border guards were forced to open gunfire to stop them. The ships were detained and towed to the city of Kerch. A criminal case was opened. The crews - 24 Ukrainian naval sailors - were arrested for having illegally crossed the Russian border.
On September 7, 2019, Russia and Ukraine exchanged detainees, who had been either arrested or sentenced in each country. The prisoner swap was carried out in accordance with the ‘35 for 35’ principle. Among the detainees were 24 Ukrainian sailors.
At present Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigations is looking into lawfulness of actions of the country’s former leadership, namely the deployment of three naval ships to the Kerch Strait on November 25, 2018.