MOSCOW, August 18. /TASS/. Russia expects that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will take specific steps on releasing over 60 Russian sailors, illegally held for about six months on merchant vessels in Izmail in the Odessa Region, Ivan Nechayev, Deputy Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Information and Press Department, told a briefing on Thursday.
"We want to highlight the cases where Russian citizens were illegally detained on Ukrainian soil. More than 60 Russian sailors on merchant vessels in Izmail have been in this situation for almost six months. Despite our repeated appeals, Kiev is holding them hostage, apparently, considering them as an exchange pool," he said.
The diplomat stressed that Russia presented this issue to the ICRC’s leadership. "We are anticipating specific steps from them on releasing the sailors," he noted.
He also said that Kiev’s illegal detention of the Russian sailors is comparable to terrorists’ actions.
As Russian Human Rights Commissioner Tatiana Moskalkova reported in May, Russian civilian sailors had been held at ship repair plants in Izmail in southern Ukraine since February without being allowed to leave their vessels. On July 30, the ombudswoman wrote on her Telegram channel that seven female crewmembers returned to Russia. Another 67 Russian sailors remain in Ukraine.
Earlier, Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva Gennady Gatilov reported that Russia had sent diplomatic notes to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet and ICRC President Peter Maurer over the forcible detention of 67 Russian civilian sailors by the Kiev regime in Izmail.