As soon as peace breaks out in Ukraine
- February-March 2014 Russian forces captured at least 66 Ukraine vessels based in Crimea
- Russia has already returned 45 of these, but over 20 remain in Crimea
- Russia says is eager to return these as well - but peace has to be established first
ST. PETERSBURG, July 1 (TASS) - Russia is ready to hand over more than 20 Ukrainian warships that are still based in Crimea to Ukrainian military when such a decision is made, a source at the General Staff of the Russian Navy told journalists on Wednesday.
"As soon as peace is established, we will take more than 20 Ukrainian ships to the neutral waters to hand them over to Ukrainian Navy representatives," the source said.
According to him, the Ukrainian ships are deployed at the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s home bases. They are fully isolated and are not used in everyday activities. The Russian military guarantee their security.
The source clarified that Ukraine had received 45 out of 66 ships and vessels. "There had been 70 Ukrainian ships and vessels in Crimea before March 2014. Several vessels were scrapped early in March 2014 by decision of the Ukrainian military agency," the source explained.
In April last year, the Russian Defence Ministry suspended the handover of Ukrainian weapons and military hardware left over in Crimea to Ukraine. However, that did not apply to warships and aviation. By early June 2014, the Ukrainian military had received 44 vessels and ships. In autumn 2014, it became known that the Crimean Council of Ministers had assigned part of the ships and boats which used to be part of the Ukrainian Navy to Crimean ministries and agencies.