Russia hands back 3 seized ships to Ukraine

November 18, 2019 - 5:30 am

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s Foreign Ministry says three Ukrainian naval ships that were seized in a shooting confrontation nearly a year ago have been returned.

The two gunboats and a tug were taken by the Russian coast guard on Nov. 25, 2018, as they passed through the Kerch Strait that connects the Black Sea with the Azov Sea, en route to their home port in Mariupol.

The Kerch Strait runs between mainland Russia and Russia-annexed Crimea. Russia claimed the ships violated procedures for transiting the strait.

The Russian coast guard fired shots and seized 24 Ukrainian sailors. The sailors were detained for 10 months and returned home in September as part of a prisoner exchange.

A Russian ministry statement said the ship handover took place Monday but did not give further details.

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