KIEV, November 21. /TASS/. The three Ukrainian Navy ships, detained by Russia in the Kerch Strait last year for illegally crossing its border and handed over to Ukraine earlier this week, berthed in the Ukrainian port of Ochakov on Wednesday, the 5 Kanal TV channel reported.
"The Ukrainian ships returned home. After the captivity that lasted for more than a year, they entered the military port of Ochakov. Both the civilians and military came to greet them," it said.
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky is expected to pay a visit to Ochakov.
On November 18, Russia returned to Ukraine three naval ships: the tug boat Jana Kapu and two small armored artillery boats Nikopol and Berdyansk detained during the Kerch Strait incident. The procedure took place in the neutral waters of the Black Sea.
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.
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.
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.
On November 18, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said Kiev would not withdraw from proceedings against Russia in the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), despite the fact that the detained sailors and warships had returned back to the country. Russia has notified the tribunal that it would not take part in the hearing as it did not recognize the tribunal’s jurisdiction in the case.