SEVASTOPOL, November 19. /TASS/. An investigation launched in the wake of Ukraine’s provocation off the coast of Crimea will continue despite the return of detained warships to Ukraine, a member of the Federation Council (upper chamber of parliament) representing the Crimean city of Sevastopol, Valery Kulikov, told TASS.
"The investigation into this crime against the sovereignty of our country continues. Actions by all participants of this provocation will be duly assessed," said Kulikov, who is a member of the Federation Council’s Defense and Security Committee.
He assured that "our country’s borders are sacred and duly protected" and warned other states against trying to test them.
On Monday, 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."
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.