PARIS, April 6. /TASS/. Foreign ministers of the Group of Seven nations called on Moscow to set free the Ukrainian naval sailors who were detained by border guards in November 2018 in the Kerch Strait, says the final communique released after the ministers’ two-day meeting in France’s Dinard.
"We express our utmost concern about Russia’s actions against Ukraine in the Kerch Strait and surrounding waters, which have dangerously raised tensions," it says. "We call on Russia to release the detained crew and vessels and refrain from impeding lawful passage through the Kerch Strait."
The G7 foreign ministers expressed their "utmost concern at the challenging security and humanitarian situation that has prevailed in Eastern Ukraine for nearly five years, we fully support the efforts within the Normandy format and of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe for a solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine," the communique says.
"We are convinced that the only way to reach a peaceful and sustainable solution to the conflict is through the full implementation by the sides of their commitments under the Minsk agreements with the aim of restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity," the document says.
According to the G7 ministers, "the duration of economic sanctions is entirely linked to Russia’s complete implementation of its commitments under the Minsk agreements."
"These sanctions can only be rolled back if Russia truly fulfills these commitments, but we also stand ready to take further restrictive measures should Russia’s actions so require," they stressed.
Kerch Strait incident
On November 25, 2018, three Ukrainian naval ships left the port of Odessa heading into the Sea of Azov. While passing through the Kerch Strait, they violated the rules of passage for warships via Russia’s territorial waters from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov. In defiance of Russian border guards’ lawful demands to halt, the Ukrainian ships went on moving, thus forcing the Russian border guards to open gunfire in order to compel them to stop. The ships were detained and towed to the city of Kerch. The 24 Ukrainian sailors were arrested on charges of the illegal crossing of the Russian border. A criminal case was opened.