4 Dec 2018 14:31

Poroshenko calls arrested sailors POWs, says Russia can't try them

KYIV. Dec 4 (Interfax) - The Ukrainian ships detained by Russia in the Kerch Strait area on November 25 were performing a standard redeployment and rotation mission, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said at a meeting with the families of the arrested sailors.

"The president stressed in particular that the Ukrainian vessels were performing a usual redeployment and rotation mission," the presidential press service said following the meeting.

Poroshenko told the relatives of the arrested sailors that Ukraine will not agree to compromises regarding their release. "We are not agreeing to any compromises. And some ask whether there are any preconditions for us to take any steps. I say: the first step is that the soldiers must come home," he said.

"It's not for your [Russian] unjust court to try our guys! They are prisoners of war under their status and under the Geneva Convention, and they are not within the jurisdiction of any Kremlin court. Why? Because there is no truth, justice, or law there," Poroshenko said.

The Russian border guard used weapons to stop three Ukrainian naval vessels - the Yany Kapu tug and the Berdyansk and the Nikopol armored gunboats - near the Kerch Strait on November 25. Three sailors were wounded. Courts in Crimea sanctioned the arrest of all 24 crewmembers of these vessels until January 25, 2019. The sailors have been transferred to Moscow; most of them are currently being held at the Lefortovo detention center, while the wounded are in the infirmary of the Matrosskaya Tishina detention center.