Estonia condemns Russian attack on Ukrainian vessels in Kerch Strait

Estonia condemns Russian attack on Ukrainian vessels in Kerch Strait

Kyiv considers the construction of this bridge unlawful and the European Union has criticised what it calls another assault on Ukraine's territorial integrity.

"Russian coast guard vessels ... carried out openly aggressive actions against Ukrainian navy ships", the Ukrainian navy statement said.

Kiev called Russia's actions a flagrant violation of global law, because the Black Sea is free for shipping, and Crimea belongs to Ukraine.

The Kerch Strait between the Azov and Black seas.

The confrontation at sea is a risky development in the long-running conflict pitting Ukraine against Moscow and Russian-backed rebels in the east of the country.

The image released by the Ukrainian Navy
The image released by the Ukrainian Navy

Interfax news agency quoted Russia's human rights commissioner, Tatyana Moskalkova, as saying on Monday that 24 Ukrainian sailors were being detained.

The FSB claimed it had "irrefutable evidence that Kiev prepared and orchestrated provocations.in the Black Sea".

Asked about the possibility of Western naval ships escorting merchant vessels to Ukrainian ports to prevent them being harassed but Russia, he pointed out that the Ukrainian-Russian treaty over shared control of the Azov Sea, allows Russia act against any non-Ukrainian or Russian ships entering the waters.

The injured sailors are receiving medical treatment and their lives are not in danger, the FSB said.

With relations still raw after Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and its backing for a pro-Moscow insurgency in eastern Ukraine, the crisis risked pushing the two countries into open conflict and there were early signs it was reigniting Western calls for more sanctions on Moscow.


For the US and its allies, the incident highlights the growing tensions around the Black Sea, which is vital to the economies of NATO's southern members but also a place where there is a military mismatch with Russian Federation.

The ships were all captured by the Russians, reported al-Jazeera.

Ukraine will be under martial law for 30 days after the country's Parliament voted to support President Petro Poroshenko's motion, arguing it was needed to fight "growing aggression from Russia". Moscow also says the checks are necessary for security reasons.

In the evening, Ukraine said its vessels had been fired on and seized by the Russians.

Russian Navy tried to block Ukrainian Navy from entering Azov sea on Nov 25, when 2 Ukrainian Navy small gun ships BERDYANSK and NIKOPOL, and Navy tug YANA KAPU, transited Kerch Strait, while en route from Black Sea Navy Base to Ukrainian Port of Mariupol in Azov sea.


According to the Ukrainian government, Russian forces opened fire on the Ukrainian Navy vessels.

"We expect Russian Federation to restore freedom of passage at the Kerch strait and urge all to act with utmost restraint to de-escalate the situation immediately", the European Union said in a statement. A spokesman for the FSB, the country's Federal Security Service - which oversees the coast guard - said the Ukrainian vessels violated territorial waters and had to be stopped. Once again, we see Russian contempt for global norms and Ukrainian sovereignty.

Mr Poroshenko's approval ratings have been plunging, and martial law could mean a presidential election scheduled for March might be postponed.


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