Three Ukrainian navy ships, the Nikopol, Berdyansk, and the Yanu Kapu have been returned to Ukraine after being captured by Russia last November, six months after a decision by the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea ruled that Russia must release the vessels. This decision was ignored by Russia, who had also arrested all 24 Ukrainian sailors aboard the ships, until a major prisoner exchange earlier this year.
Ukrainian Navy Commander Ihor Voronchenko commented that the vessels were “killed” while in Russian hands, and that everything from the lights to even the toilet bowls were stripped off, noting that the ships did not travel under their own power.
The Kerch Strait incident was the first instance of Russian aggression against Ukraine under its own flag – Russia continues to deny involvement in the five year conflict in the Donbas, despite copious evidence that its soldiers, equipment, and army command are directly involved.
Ukraine continues to pursue a case against Russia for their actions on the Kerch Strait, refuting Russian claims that the Ukrainians violated Russia’s border. A Ukrainian Foreign Ministry official stated that the first hearing in this case will be heard at the ITLOS on November 21.
Watch our film on how the Kerch Strait conflict unfolded in November 2018.