A court in Crimea ordered three Ukrainian Navy sailors detained during a maritime confrontation over the weekend to be held in pre-trial detention until January 25.
“For now, the court has ordered three people held until January 25” on accusations of crossing into Russian territory illegally, Lyudmila Lubina, Commissioner for Human Rights in Crimea, told AFP at the court on Tuesday, November 27.
Several of the 24 other Ukrainian sailors held by Russia were expected to appear before the court later Tuesday.
One of the sailors was identified by Russia’s Tass news agency as Vladimir Varimez.
Sailors from the Ukrainian warships Berdyansk and Nikopol and a tugboat, the Yany Kapu, were taken into custody over the weekend. Russian forces boarded and captured the ships as they were heading into the Kerch Strait, a waterway that gives access to the Sea of Azov from the Black Sea and which is used by both Ukraine and Russia.
Ukrainian sailors’ seizure
UPDATE 12:00 November 27
The first picture of Ukrainian "Berdyansk" small armored artillery boat damaged by Russian ships.
Expert estimates confirm the hit was by a 30 mm projectile from “Izumrud’s” AK-630 artillery system. pic.twitter.com/3fsm7F6SS7
— Ukrainian Military Portal (@mil_in_ua_en) November 27, 2018
Moscow has accused the vessels of illegally entering Russian waters off the coast of Crimea in the Sea of Azov.
Ukraine said a Russian border guard vessel rammed the tugboat and then fired on the ships, immobilizing all three. It said the Kerch Strait was blocked by a tanker and that Russian military aircraft were flying over the area.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
With reporting from AFP