How many petty officers does it take to unhook a toilet?
The ships were left in such a poor state that they couldn’t sail back on their own and had to be towed, Ukrainian navy chief Vice Admiral Ihor Voronchenko told Ukrainian television’s 4th channel.
“The Russians ruined them — even took off lamps, power outlets and toilets,” Vorochenko said, according to a translation by Reuters.
“We will show the whole world the Russian barbarism towards them.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy conducted a tour of the repatriated ships on Wednesday.
“We saw that equipment is partially missing indeed,” he said. “We will certainly ask Russia to return everything they took.”
Russia has denied stripping the trio of ships, which include a tugboat and two small armoured artillery vessels.
“If Ukraine managed to ruin the vessels and their bathroom equipment as they crossed the coast of Crimea to Ochakiv, that’s Ukraine’s problem,” Russia’s Federal Security Service FSB said, according to the country’s Interfax news service.
Russia initially seized the boats last November in the Kerch Strait, a disputed stretch of water that separates Russia from Crimea.
Crimea was annexed from Ukraine by Russia in 2014, touching off a five-year conflict between the two nations that has resulted in more than 13,000 deaths.
Russia released the sailors it captured with the ships in September as part of a prisoner exchange.
The Russians returned the Ukrainian ships this week ahead of a four-way summit to resolve tensions in the region on Dec. 9.
Germany and France will be at the meeting in hopes of brokering a resolution to the violence between Russia and Ukraine.
— With files from ReutersFollow @JoshKElliott
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