In this regard, the European Union reiterated its call for the immediate and unconditional release of captured Ukrainian sailors. A corresponding statement was published on the website of the European External Action Service.
“The European Union Delegation in Moscow along with a number of EU diplomatic missions were observing the proceedings at the Lefortovo Moscow City Court until the moment when the hearings were declared closed to the public. The servicemen have been held since 25 November 2018, when they were captured and their vessels seized near the Kerch Strait by Russia using military force with no justification,” reads the statement.
The European Union reminds that while the sailors remain detained, Russia must respect their right to legal representation, unhindered access by consular authorities, and ensure that all crewmen receive appropriate medical treatment as several of them were wounded during the capture.
“The EU has repeatedly stated its expectation that Russia immediately and unconditionally release the 24 captured Ukrainian sailors,” says the statement.
As noted, the EU has responded to the escalation at the Kerch Strait by adding Russian officials to the list of those subject to restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.
“We expect Russia to ensure unhindered and free passage through the Kerch Strait to and from the Azov Sea, in accordance with international law,” the document underscores.
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