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'Pain Will Grow' Over Detained Ukrainian Sailors, U.S. Warns Russia

Joshua Roberts / Reuters

A senior U.S. State Department official warned Moscow on Tuesday that it must release the Ukrainian sailors it detained in a naval incident late last month or face growing consequences.

Russian vessels fired on and seized three Ukrainian naval ships on Nov. 25th as they attempted to pass through the narrow Kerch Strait into the Sea of Azov, which lies between Russia and Ukraine. Last Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump canceled his scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a G20 summit over Moscow’s actions in the Kerch Strait.

“We want the Russians to absorb the message that they need to release the crews or there will be consequences and the pain will grow over time,” the State Department official was quoted as saying at a briefing on Tuesday.

The official also urged European countries to abandon their support for the NordStream 2 gas pipeline, which critics say will make Germany and Europe more dependent on Russia for its energy supplies.

“The Kerch incident should be a reminder to all of our European allies on why Nord Stream 2 is such a bad idea,” he said.

Last week, a German government spokesperson said Berlin was committed to the pipeline despite the Ukrainian crisis.

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