December 28, 2018 / 11:47 AM / 4 months ago

Merkel, Macron demand Russia release Ukrainian seamen

FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Berlin, Germany, December 19, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron demanded on Friday that Russia release Ukrainian sailors who were seized along with their ships last month.

Moscow accused the 24 sailors of illegally crossing the Russian border. Ukraine said Russia captured the two small gunboats and one tugboat illegally and accused Moscow of military aggression.

“We demand safe, free and unimpeded transit for all ships through the Kerch Strait and the immediate and unconditional release of all illegally detained Ukrainian seafarers,” Merkel and Macron said in a joint statement.

Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Maria Sheahan

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