MOSCOW, December 8. /TASS/. Ukrainian sailors detained during the Kerch incident cannot be considered prisoners of war, as they are accused of committing a general crime, Head of the Investigative Department of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Mikhail Shishov said at a briefing on Saturday.

“Recently, the Ukrainian side is trying to present its servicemen as prisoners of war. However, these Ukrainian citizens are accused of committing a criminal offense and in accordance with the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war from August 12, 1949, cannot be considered prisoners of war, since the Russian Federation and Ukraine are not in a state of military conflict or war,” he said.

First Deputy Head of the Coast Guard Department of the FSB Border Service Aleksey Volsky earlier denied allegations of Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian vessels in the Kerch Strait at the briefing on Moscow.

“From April 1 to 1 December 2018, 18,783 vessels passed through the Kerch Strait. Before passing the Kerch-Yenikalsky Canal, 2,052 vessels were inspected, or 12% of the total,” Volsky said.

“Of these, 1,183 inspected ships carried cargo to Russian ports in the Sea of Azov and only 869 ships were going to Ukrainian ports. It is obvious that there were more inspections of ships going to Russian ports through the Kerch Strait and the so-called Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian vessels in the Kerch Strait is out of the question,” he said.

Meanwhile, a resident of Donbass identified a member of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) who was torturing him in one of 24 prisoners arrested for illegally crossing the border, Shishov said.

“A resident of the Donetsk region turned to us. He identified an SBU officer in one of the detainees as the person who tortured him in Berdyansk leaving serious bodily injuries,” said Shishov.

In the morning of November 25, three ships from the Ukrainian Navy – the Berdyansk, the Nikopol and the Yany Kapu – illegally crossed Russia’s border. They ignored legitimate demands to stop issued by vessels belonging to the FSB Border Service and the Black Sea Fleet and continued maneuvering dangerously. In order to stop the Ukrainian ships, weapons were used. A criminal investigation has been opened into the border incident.

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