Russia returned seized gunboats and a tug to Ukraine

Росія повернула Україні захоплені кораблі

Three Ukrainian naval ships that were seized by Russia nearly a year ago have been returned today, Ukrainian Navy press service reported.

At present, the Ukrainian tugboats Titan, Haydamaky and the Sapphire search and rescue vessel together with the patrol boats Nikopol (P176), Berdyansk (P175) and the tugboat Yana Kapu (A947) are heading towards Odesa.

The two gunboats and a tug were taken by the Russian coast guard on Nov. 25, 2018, near the Kerch Strait that connects the Black Sea with the Azov Sea. The Kerch Strait runs between mainland Russia and Russia-annexed Crimea.

Russia claimed the Ukrainian ships had violated procedures for transiting the strait. The Russian coast guard fired shots, then seized the ships and their crew of 24 Ukrainian sailors. The sailors were detained for 10 months and returned home in September as part of a prisoner exchange.