Nov. 18 (UPI) -- The Russian government on Monday said it's returned three naval ships to Ukraine, a year after it seized them in the Kerch Strait.
Moscow used the ships as evidence in criminal trials over illegal crossings of the Russian border. With the investigation complete, the ships were free to be returned, the foreign ministry said.
The ministry said the ships were taken due to "international provocation" bu Ukrainian forces in the Kerch Strait area in November 2018.
"Russia is determined to firmly resist any provocations near its borders in order to maintain the safety of shipping in accordance with Russian legislation, bilateral treaties and other applicable norms of international law," it said.
The ships were taken after ignoring warnings from Russia's FSB Border Service and the Black Sea Fleet, Moscow said.
Russian officials charged 24 sailors with violating the Russian border. Russia and Ukraine conducted an exchange of detainees on Sept. 7. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and President Vladimir Putin negotiated their release.