Walker: We’re not holding Ukrainian prisoners of war, does Russia. We are unable to release them

Волкер: Мы не удерживаем украинских пленных, это делает Россия. Мы не можем их освободить

United States come from a basic principle: Russia and Ukraine have the right to shared use of the Kerch Strait and sea of Azov, said in an interview with “Voice of America”, published on 27 February, the special representative of the US State Department on Ukraine Kurt Volker.

The question of how will the US react if Russia again will attack on Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait, Walker said: “the Key task is to prevent that something like that happened again.”

“It is not in the interests of any of the parties to the Ukrainian court seized, and the sailors betrayed the conclusion how it happened now. We need careful coordination, clear communication and a practical understanding of what is happening in the Kerch Strait. We start from the basic principle: Crimea is Ukraine; Russia and Ukraine have the right to the common use of the Strait and sea of Azov. For us it is a starting point, and we completely support it”, – said the representative of the state Department.

He noted that “a very balanced approach to the way in which the Ukrainian court, both commercial and military, come in Strait out, below the situation that happened in November, not repeated.”

Answering the question, what are the real levers are in the United States to aid in the release of prisoners of war of Ukrainian sailors, Volker stressed that the United States is doing everything they can, but the solution is for Russia.

“We’re not holding Ukrainian prisoners of war, does Russia. We are unable to release them. We immediately called on Russia to release the sailors. For their holding no legal basis. In fact, the attack on the court, and the capture of prisoners was initially illegal. Russia, however, at our request, replied that he was not going to release them. Supposedly, it would be a gift for the electoral campaign of President [of Ukraine Petro] Poroshenko. This is a very cynical approach is to keep these people as political pawns. But be that as it may, we insist that we free the sailors return to their families, and then let’s get back to discussing how to solve the conflict, which Russia started in the East of Ukraine, instead to bring the case to escalation,” said Walker.

25 November 2018, the Russian Federation fired at and seized in the Black sea boats of the Ukrainian naval forces “Berdyansk” and “Nikopol” and the tug “Yana Kapu”, which was returning to Odessa after trying to pass through the Kerch Strait in the Azov sea.

Russian security forces detained the 24 Ukrainian seafarers, they were later arrested in the Crimean “courts,” and moved to Moscow. Three of the injured Ukrainians were taken to hospital of the detention facility “Matrosskaya Tishina”, the others were taken to the SIZO “Lefortovo”. Now all the sailors are in “Lefortovo”.

All Ukrainians were charged with illegal crossing of the Russian border. Ukraine considers sailors prisoners of war and demands to let them go.