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Mogherini urges Russia to release Ukrainian sailors unconditionally

The EU called "on all sides to show utmost restraint".

Mogherini urges Russia to release Ukrainian sailors unconditionally
Photo: EPA/UPG

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini has said the Kerch Strait incident was a violation of the OSE and urged Russia to release Ukrainian sailors.

"The recent events in the Sea of Azov are a reason for grave concern for us and represent another case where our common principles are being broken; a violation that comes as a consequence of the illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by the Russian Federation," she said.

"We call on all sides to show utmost restraint to de-escalate the situation immediately. And we urge Russia to release the captured vessels, their crew and equipment unconditionally and without delay. We expect Russia to ensure unhindered and free passage through the Kerch strait, in accordance with international law," she added.

She said the EU remains committed to promoting a sustainable political solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine "with full respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity".

"We continue to call for the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements by all sides and we have made clear that the so-called “elections” in the non-government controlled territories in eastern Ukraine are illegal and undermine the commitments taken under the Minsk agreements," Mogherini said.

On 25 November, Russia attacked and captured three Ukrainian naval vessels in neutral waters of the Black Sea off the Kerch Strait. It detained and arrested 24 Ukrainian sailors, including three wounded ones.

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