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Denmark and the Czech Republic stand with the Ukrainian People and call for immediate release of Ukrainian crewmembers

Today [January 29, 2018] the Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Anders Samuelsen, and the Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Tomáš Petříček, jointly visit eastern Ukraine and the port city of Mariupol together with their Ukrainian colleague Mr. Pavlo Klimkin.

The visit to the frontline city of Mariupol sends a signal of the two countries’ strong support for Ukraine. It provides an opportunity to get a first-hand impression of the human and economic hardship caused by the conflict with Russia-backed armed formations in Eastern Ukraine. A hardship that has only increased in Mariupol and the surrounding areas by recent Russian actions at the Kerch Strait and in the Sea of Azov. Denmark and the Czech Republic strongly condemn the Russian actions and call on Russia to immediately release the 24 illegally detained crewmembers of the Ukrainian vessels seized on November 25, 2018. If the crewmembers are not released, the EU should stand ready to look at new, targeted measures against Russia. Russia must ensure unhindered and free passage through the Kerch Strait to and from the Azov Sea and must halt its harassment of ships on their way to Ukrainian ports.

The Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Anders Samuelsen: “This visit serves to confirm our continued strong support for Ukraine. I am pleased to be here together with my Czech colleague. We are united in our strong and unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. We have not forgotten the incident on November 25, where 24 Ukrainian crewmembers were illegally detained by Russia. If Russia will not release the Ukrainian crewmembers, I believe the EU should be ready to look at further targeted sanctions against Russia. That will be discussed when we meet with our EU colleagues on 18 February, where we will also discuss what more we could do to support this region of Ukraine.”

The Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Tomáš Petříček: “After almost five years of fighting in eastern Ukraine innocent civilians continue to be killed and injured. The situation of sovereign Ukraine has been even worsened by the incident in Kerch Strait and growing tensions in the Sea of Azov. Together with my Danish colleague we expressed today our continuous support to Ukraine in this regrettable situation and we stated our conviction that the citizens of Ukraine have the right to live in dignity and peace. We strongly call for release of the Ukrainian crewmembers that are since last year illegally detained in Russia. All options of solving this situation are on the table. I will help initiate a frank and serious exchange on this matter in the EU Council, with the other foreign ministers".