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STATEMENT: For Immediate Release

January 16, 2019


Release the Ukrainian Sailors: The Kremlin’s Aggression

against Ukraine Continues

On November 25, 2018, Russian naval vessels attacked Ukrainian ships in the Sea of Azov, capturing three Ukrainian vessels and 24 sailors. These actions were blatant provocations by Russia and add to the growing list of aggression by the Putin regime against a country it has waged war against for five years and is occupying piecemeal, starting with Crimea.

We agree wholeheartedly with the denouncements of the international community against these actions, including those by the leaders of France and Germany to demand that Russia release the sailors. We also urge the United States government and Congress do more to help in the release of the Ukrainian sailors, and the more than eighty other Ukrainian political prisoners held by the Russian Federation, and to increase its efforts to draw more public attention to their plight.

Russia, under the direction of their security services, is doing its best to keep the issue out of the headlines, as reports Halya Coynash on January 15 in the Human Rights in Ukraine website. This includes covering up looming court proceedings against the Ukrainian POWs, an action deemed completely illegal by the Geneva conventions.

Current sanctions against the Russian Federation should continue to be implemented to their fullest extent, and new sanctions should be imposed upon the regime. The Putin regime needs to be held accountable. We condemn its revisionism and imperialism.

The Kremlin’s behavior is no surprise to Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians in the United States, who have seen this treachery before. It is our duty to continue to help support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. That’s why we are committing ourselves to keep up the pressure until the sailors and other Ukrainians are unconditionally released and Russian forces leave Ukraine, including Crimea. We will not forget, nor will we allow the U.S. government to do so!

JBANC represents the Estonian American National Council, Inc., the American Latvian Association, Inc., and the Lithuanian American Council, Inc.

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