After reportedly arresting some two dozen Ukrainian sailors following Sunday’s near-confrontation in the Kerch Strait between Ukraine and Russian naval ships, Russia’s FSB security service has released video of three men admitting that they provoked Russia into forcefully halting the Ukrainian ships.
One of the crew members, who is identified by Russian media as Andrey Drach, an agent with the Main Directorate of Military Counterintelligence of Ukraine’s Security Service, said Russia’s Coast Guard repeatedly warned the Ukrainian ships against entering Russian water.
“On the way to Mariupol through the Kerch Strait we reached the territorial waters of the Russian Federation where the Border Service of the Russian Federation warned us that that we violated the legislation of the Russian Federation. They told us repeatedly to leave the territorial waters of the Russian Federation.”
A second sailor confirmed Drach’s statement. He was identified as Sergey Tsybizov, a sailor aboard the navy ship Nikopol:
“We sailed further on ‘Nikopol’ and Russian vessels contacted us and requested us to stop and reverse.”
And in a third released by the FSB, a man identified as Vladimir Lesovoy, a captain of the third rank, said that the sailors were aware that their actions were “provocative in nature.”
Russia detained the two artillery ships and a tugboat after using weapons to force them to stop after what Moscow described as “dangerous maneuvering” in the waters near the Kerch Strait. Russia is refusing to return the ships and has arrested members of the crew as it pursues a criminal investigation.
Since then, Ukraine has declared martial law as tensions between the neighboring countries escalate to their highest level since the annexation of Crimea.
Of course, whether these statements are genuine, or the men were speaking under duress remains an open question.
Watch the video below: