“The US and Europe are looking for, what action needs to be taken if Russia does not return sailors.”
US special envoy on Ukraine Kurt Volker believes that Russia holds Ukrainian sailors to exert political pressure on the Ukrainian government before the presidential election. He admits that Russia will face additional sanctions for that.
“Russia continues to illegally hold Ukrainian sailors and illegally incriminating charges against them. Russia intends to hold them until at least April, when presidential elections will be held. This creates the impression that this is more of a political move to use the held sailors to put pressure on Ukraine than that there are legitimate grounds for their detention”, – he said during a telephone briefing on Thursday.
He added that the United States and the European Union continue to insist on the release of the sailors and to seek options for additional measures against Russia.
“I visited Brussels in December, met with representatives of the EU and NATO and I can say that the US and Europe are looking for what additional measures need to be taken if Russia does not return sailors. The United States will revise the “Crimean sanctions” in February. EU discusses additional sanctions, though not yet agreed, but they in February will also be a meeting of foreign Ministers”, – he said.
Volcker also expressed hope for the release of Ukrainian sailors to be able to continue to advance its negotiations with the assistant to the Russian President Vladislav Surkov.
He recalled that because of Russian aggression in the Kerch Strait, the US President Donald trump called off his planned meeting with Vladimir Putin, and Volcker acted similarly with the planned meeting with Surkov.
We will remind, on November 25 Russia with weapons seized in international waters by the Ukrainian military boats “Berdyansk”, “Nikopol” and tug “Yana Kapu”, on Board of which 24 were Ukrainian. They were accused of violating the state border, he was arrested and taken from Kerch to Moscow.
Ukraine regarded it as an act of military aggression.