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US urges Russia to release imprisoned Ukrainian sailors

Dmytro Razumkov, head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's "Servant of the People" party, delivers a speech at the party's headquarters after the Parliamentary elections in Kiev, Ukraine, on July 21, 2019. (TNS)

VLADIMIR SHTANKO, ANADOLU AGENCY VIA GETTY IMAGES//TNS

By VOLODYMYR VERBYANY | Bloomberg News | Published: July 27, 2019

KIEV, Ukraine (Tribune News Service) — The U.S. called on Russia to release jailed Ukrainian sailors and to enable a prisoner exchange, U.S. State Department Special Representative Kurt Volker told reporters in Kiev.

Russia seized three Ukrainian naval vessels and imprisoned their two dozen crewmembers in November, accusing them of violating its territorial waters. The incident occurred off the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 after protesters in Kiev ousted the country’s Kremlin-backed leader. This week, Ukraine detained and searched a Russian tanker near the Black Sea port of Odessa.

A visit to the U.S. by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is being prepared, Volker said. Zelenskiy came to power in May. Volker called the recent parliamentary elections free and fair and said Ukraine should step up reforms and overhaul the judiciary system.

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