SIMFEROPOL, November 18. /TASS/. Ukraine should return the detained fishing vessel Nord to Crimea as a goodwill gesture after Russia has handed over three naval ships to Kiev, Deputy Chairman of the Crimean Council of Ministers and Crimea’s Permanent Representative to the Russian President Georgy Muradov said on Monday.
Earlier in the day, Russia returned to Ukraine three naval ships: the tug boat Jana Kapu and two small armored artillery boats Nikopol and Berdyansk. The procedure took place in the Black Sea.
"I believe it would be right for Ukraine to return the detained shipping vessel Nord as a goodwill gesture after the handover of the naval ships," Muradov told TASS.
This can also relate to the return of other Russian ships earlier detained at Ukrainian ports, he said, noting that as a Crimean official he expected the return of precisely the fishing vessel Nord.
"We are concerned that our fishermen were left without their vessel, which was the means to earn their living," Muradov explained.
Russian vessels’ detention
In March 2018, the Ukrainian Border Guard Service detained the Russian fishing boat Nord with a crew of ten Russian citizens on board in the Azov Sea. Captain Vladimir Gorbenko was charged with "violating the rules of entry into the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine" and illegal fishing. The Kherson City Court on April 10 released him on bail in exchange for the promise to participate in investigative procedures. The other crewmembers were fined.
Two sailors soon managed to leave Ukraine, while the seven others remained in detention in Ukraine. Kiev did not allow them to leave the country with Russian IDs. On October 30, seven sailors were handed over to Russia upon mutual agreement with Ukraine in exchange for as many Ukrainian sailors from two fishing boats earlier detained for illegal fishing off Crimea. In early February, Gorbenko was put on a wanted list in Ukraine as a missing person. It turned out a short while later that he had managed to get back home on his own.
In November 2018, the UNN news agency reported citing Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service that 15 vessels calling at Crimea had been detained in the ports of Berdyansk and Mariupol. The Border Guard Service noted that it was keeping an eye on about 940 more so-called non-compliant vessels, most of them serving Crimean ports.
Kerch Strait provocation
On November 25, 2018, three Ukrainian naval ships violated the rules of navigation in Russia’s territorial waters on the way from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov. Military force had to be used to stop them. The ships were detained and the 24 crewmembers arrested and charged with state border violation.
On September 7, 2019, Russia and Ukraine exchanged groups of arrestees and convicts. Either country released 35 persons. The 24 Ukrainian sailors were allowed to leave for home in the swap.
Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigation is probing into the legality of the former Ukrainian leadership’s decision to send the naval ships to the Kerch Strait.