President Petro Poroshenko

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has demanded the immediate release of Ukrainian sailors and warships seized by Russia in the Kerch Strait, a body of water between Russia’s mainland and Crimea, the peninsula that the Kremlin annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Poroshenko made this known at a meeting of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council on Monday.

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According to a statement by Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the attack was carried out on three Ukrainian navy vessels as they were crossing from the Ukrainian port of Odessa on the Black Sea to the Ukrainian port of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov. The Kerch Strait connects the two seas.

Poroshenko, in a statement published on the his official website, described the Russian attack as a “deliberate action,” involving the use of weapons against Ukrainian sailors, six of whom were wounded.

“I appeal to the leadership of the Russian Federation with a demand to immediately release the Ukrainian servicemen who were brutally detained in violation of international law and whose fate is unknown.

“We demand to immediately transfer them to the Ukrainian side along with the ships and ensure de-escalation of the situation in the Sea of Azov – as a first step, and de-escalation in other directions.”