24 Sailors Captured by Russia Need to Be Returned to Ukraine – US Envoy Kurt Volker
26 February, 2019

U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine negotiations Kurt Volker speaks at Mystetskyi Arsenal in Kyiv, Ukraine on February 26.

Speaking at a conference as part of the opening of the “Amazing Stories of Crimea” exhibition at Kyiv’s Mystetskyi Arsenal, U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine negotiations Kurt Volker stressed the U.S.’s position on Russia’s unlawful imprisonment of the 24 Ukrainian sailors captured in the November 25 attack near the Kerch Strait.  

“They should be returned to Ukraine and to their families straight away,” Volker stated, adding that this was also the European Union’s stance on the matter.

READ MORE: Russia Fires on Ukrainian Ship in the Kerch Strait

And although the U.S. recognizes Russia’s continued failure to adhere with the Minsk ceasefire agreements, he also stated that Ukraine needed to take steps to ensure the safety of the local population in Donbas.  

“There are things that are Ukraine's responsibility as well, such as holding elections when its possible, providing special status for the territories within the Ukrainian constitution and amnesty for crimes committed as part of the conflict,” he commented.

In answer to Hromadske’s question on the often deadly conditions pensioners in particular face when crossing the checkpoints in and out of Ukraine-controlled territory, Volker, again, urged the government to provide as much humanitarian assistance as possible.

READ MORE: What’s Happening With Ukraine’s Prisoners of War?

“That includes things like de-mining, safety and security around the boundary-crossing points and, unfortunately, we do not see those same steps being taken on the Russian-occupied territory,” said the U.S. official.