The navy, the Ukrainian accused Sunday the russians have taken hold of three of his ships, after having fired on it, wounding two people aboard, in the strait of Kerch, which separates Crimea from Russia and marking the access to the sea of Azov. The tension on the latter are experiencing an unprecedented upsurge, Kiev has already accused earlier in the day in Moscow to have rammed one of its vessels of war, and to block access to this small sea.
“The stars armored artillery Berdyansk and Nikopol have been hit by enemy fire and unable to navigate. The tug Iany Kapu was forced to stop”, said in a statement the navy of ukraine. “There is information according to which two sailors ukrainians are wounded.” The Ukrainian president mr poroshenko has “denounced the aggressive act of Russia for a climbing premeditated” in this area, and convened in the evening on a high-military committee, bringing together the most senior officers of the army and security services to discuss the situation. It was announced in the evening that he was going to propose to the Parliament to proclaim martial law, raising fears of an escalation in the region.
The EU and Nato call for a “de-escalation”
The european Union and Nato have called on the two parties on Sunday night at the “de-escalation” in the sea of Azov and asked Moscow to “restore freedom of passage” in the strait of Kerch. “We expect from Russia that it restores freedom of passage in the strait of Kerch and we call on all parties to act with maximum restraint in order to achieve a de-escalation immediately of the situation”, said EU in a press release. Nato has also called for restraint and de-escalation” by the voice of a spokesperson.
According to the navy, the Ukrainian, Russian border guards were first struck on Sunday one of its tugs off the coast of Crimea, annexed in 2014 by Moscow, in the framework of “actions openly aggressive against ships in ukraine”. The Russian security services (FSB), responsible for the surveillance of the border guard service, confirmed the use of armed force to board the three ships ukrainians. But they claim that they were “illegally in an area temporarily closed territorial waters Russian” and reportedly carried out “acts of provocation” in a “clear goal: to create a situation of conflict in the region”. The navy Ukrainian had informed Russia in advance of the route of its vessels. The FSB added that three sailors ukrainians were injured in the incident, and receive care. Their lives would not have been in danger.
The strait of Kerch, the only seaway between the Black Sea and the Azov sea, is a strategic axis of primary importance for Russia as for Ukraine. Kiev accuses the Russians block the access to this small sea, located between Crimea, annexed in 2014 by Moscow, and eastern Ukraine, the scene of a conflict between power of Kiev and the separatists prorusses. According to the Ukrainians, an oil tanker Russian placed under the bridge to Crimea across the strait of Kerch, blocking access to the latter. Russia, always according to the navy of ukraine, would have sent two military helicopters patrol the skies over the region to monitor the ships, while the Russian agency RIA said that two military aircraft were flying over also the area. “We consider these acts aggressive as a violation of norms” of international law, has responded to the ministry of foreign Affairs of ukraine, stating that it would take “all appropriate measures to provide a legal response to diplomatic and international”.
boats ukrainians detained, officially for testing
The vice-president of the parliament of Crimea, for its part, indicated that “appropriate measures would be taken to ensure that these characters (…) do not continue to believe that everything is allowed because they are supported by the United States and european countries”. Russia claims control of the waters off the Crimea since the annexation of the peninsula. Kiev and the west accuse Moscow of”hinder” the deliberate navigation of commercial vessels through the strait of Kerch, the only seaway between the Black Sea and the sea of Azov.
The difficulties with the construction in Moscow of a bridge very controversial 19-kilometre long strait of Kerch. The installation of arches in 2017 has already “cut off the way to a part of the vessels, too large to pass underneath,” according to Oleksandre Oliïnyk, director of the port of Mariupol. This year, Russian border guards have started to remember of the boats officially for controls. These delays impose substantial losses to shipowners and ports, which lose their customers.
The events in the sea of Azov show what can lead “the disregard of basic rules of international cooperation,” said the european Union in its statement Sunday, noting that “the construction of the bridge Kerch (Russia) has been carried out without the consent of Ukraine and constitutes a further violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of this country. The EU “does not recognize and will not recognize the annexation illegal of Crimea by Russia”, concludes the press release. Nato, for its part, said it “fully support the sovereignty of Ukraine and its territorial integrity, including its rights of navigation in its territorial waters”.
But beyond wanting to choke the ports in ukraine, crucial for the export of metallurgical, Kiev believes that Moscow could go up to prepare for an offensive against Mariupol, the last major city under the control of Kiev in the east of the country. The tension mounts, in fact, also on the military level. In may, Moscow has transferred five of its military vessels of the Caspian sea to the Azov sea, while Kiev said in July that a quarantine of the stars of battle the russians were already there.
The shallow waters of the Azov sea bathes the south of the Donbas, a Ukrainian region where the armed conflict with separatists prorusses has done more than 10,000 dead in four years. Kiev and the West accuse Russia to provide military support to the separatists, which Moscow denies, despite ample evidence to the contrary.