A Dutch museum has returned some 400 cultural treasures to Ukraine, ending a nearly decadelong ownership battle incited by Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

The artifacts arrived on Sunday at the Museum of Historical Treasures of Ukraine in Kyiv, according to the Allard Pierson Museum, a historical museum in Amsterdam which had borrowed them from four museums in Crimea for the exhibition “Crimea — Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea.”

Among the works exhibited were prized Scythian gold objects, including a gold helmet from the fourth century BCE and a two-pound gold necklace. 

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The show opened one month before Russia invaded and annexed Crimea in 2014, and afterward both Ukraine and the four Crimean museums demanded the artifacts be returned — leaving the Allard Pierson in a legal quandary.

“This was a special case, in which cultural heritage became a victim of geopolitical developments,” Els van der Plas, director of the Amsterdam museum, said in a statement.

Following a series of lower court decisions, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled in June that the museum must return the treasures to Ukraine, not to the museums in Crimea. Rostyslav Karandeev, Ukraine’s culture minister, announced the ruling last Wednesday, thanking the Allan Pierson for safekeeping the gold for nine years. Karandeev has stressed that the works belong in Ukraine because Crimea was Ukrainian territory at the time of the loan, and could be taken by Russia if they returned to Crimea following its annexation.

After the gold arrived safely in Kyiv, a spokesperson for the University of Amsterdam said, “We’re happy that these objects are now returned to their legitimate owners.”

However, the four Crimean museums — the Central Museum of Tavrida, the Kerch Historical and Cultural Preserve, the Bakhchisaray History and Cultural State Preserve of the Republic of Crimea, and the National Preserve of Tauric Chersonesos — maintain that the artifacts should return to Crimea as stipulated by the original loan agreements. 

“[The collection] belongs to Crimea and must be there,” Dmitry S. Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, told reporters at a news conference on Monday, per Interfax, a Russian news agency, and as quoted by the New York Times. According to court documents reviewed by the Times, the total value of the objects is around $1.5 million. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy lauded the Dutch Supreme Court’s ruling, writing on the social network X, that the works “cannot be returned to Crimea for an obvious reason — it cannot be given to the occupier, the robber.” He added that the artifacts will be reunited to their institutions of origins in Crimea at a later time when the peninsula rejoins Ukraine.

“Of course, it will be in Crimea,” he said, “when the Ukrainian flag will be in Crimea.”