PARIS, November 18. /TASS/. Russia’s handover of three Ukrainian ships detained in November 2018 in the Kerch Strait helps build trust between the states, French President Emmanuel Macron said in a message published on Monday on the outcomes of his phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"The republic’s president has welcomed the statement on the handover of three Ukrainian vessels detained on November 25, 2018 in the Kerch Strait," the message says. "This step was expected, it helps strengthen trust in the dialogue between Russia and Ukraine."
Earlier, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that "the handover of three Ukrainian navy ships, which violated Russia’s border in a Kiev-staged provocation in the Kerch Strait and were detained by Russian law enforcement agencies, has taken place on November 18."
Kerch Strait incident
On November 25, 2018, three Ukrainian warships, en route from Odessa to Mariupol, illegally crossed Russia’s state border, entered Russia’s territorial waters in the Kerch Strait and started performing dangerous maneuvers. Despite the repeated warnings and demands to stop, the Ukrainian vessels continued their way, forcing Russia to use weapons. All three Ukrainian ships were detained in the Black Sea, along with 24 Ukrainian sailors.
On September 7, Moscow and Kiev carried out a "35 for 35" exchange of detainees, which included the 24 Ukrainian sailors detained in the Kerch Strait.
Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigation is currently looking into the legitimacy of the former Ukrainian authorities’ decision to send three navy ships to the Kerch Strait.