Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson
U.S. Department of State
September 8, 2019
The United States welcomes the news of the release of 35 Ukrainians held by Russia, in exchange for 35 prisoners held by Ukraine. We have consistently called for the release of the 24 Ukrainian crewmembers detained by Russia following the November 2018 attack on Ukrainian vessels in the Black Sea near the Kerch Strait, as well as Oleh Sentsov and other political prisoners. We welcome the announcement that they have returned home. We call on Russia to immediately release all other Ukrainians, including members of the Crimean Tatar community, who remain unjustly imprisoned. We are encouraged to see signs of a more robust dialogue between Russia and Ukraine. President Zelenskyy has made clear his commitment to achieving a diplomatic solution to the Russia-instigated conflict in eastern Ukraine. We support President Zelenskyy’s effort, and call on Russia to fulfill all of its commitments made under the Minsk agreements.