Kievsky District Court in Simferopol on Tuesday ordered 12 of the detained 24 Ukrainian sailors that violated Russian territorial waters are to be held in custody for two months.
The sailors were charged under Part 3 of Art. 322 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation entitled “Illegal crossing of a border, committed by a group of persons by prior agreement or by an organised group, either with the use of violence or with the threat of its use.” The article carries a maximum sentence of up to six years in prison.
According to the court’s spokesperson Liliana Gordeeva, the sailors will be held up to 25 January 2019.
According to the Ukrainian authorities, their vessels had the right to pass freely through the Kerch Strait under international law.
However, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) accused Kiev of ‘provocation’ in the Kerch Strait, which was coordinated by two members of Ukraine’s Security Service on board the vessels.
Kiev denies all the accusations with the Command of the Naval Forces of Ukraine putting the blame on the Russian side for “its aggressive actions.”
According to an FSB statement, on Sunday “at around 7:00AM MSK [04:00 GMT], three vessels of the Ukrainian Naval Forces violated articles 19 and 21 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which determines coastal states’ rights to ensure security at sea.”
The FSB said that weapons were used to make the Ukrainian vessels stop after “dangerous manoeuvring.” Three Ukrainian military personnel were injured as a result and received medical attention.