Kremlin Denies Accusation it Has Designs on Ukrainian Sea Ports

Hannah Rogers
December 5, 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly said the incident in the Kerch Strait was a "provocation" by Ukraine, and has called the ruling party in Kiev a "party of war".

Last week, Russian Federation blocked the Kerch Strait, which connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov, effectively putting the ports of Berdyanks and Mariupol under blockade.

Ukraine says traffic has resumed to and from its ports on the Sea of Azov following a standoff with Russian Federation. However President Petro Poroshenko asked allies to send warships to Sea of Azov. The ministry also said the passage of ships with agricultural products through ports on the Sea of Azov had been unblocked. On a map, Chertkovo and Milove are one village, crossed by Friendship of Peoples Street which got its name under the Soviet Union and on the streets in both places, people speak a mix of Russian and Ukrainian without turning choice of language into a political statement.

"I would say the Kerch incident is a reminder that the less infrastructure you have, the less gas infrastructure you have bypassing Ukraine because of Nord Stream 2, the weaker the deterrent - deterrence is to Russian acts of military aggression", the official said in Brussels.

"In the waters of the Black Sea, Sea of Azov, and Aegean Sea, more than 80 ships and 8 submarines are on patrol - including 23 combat vessels and 6 submarines", he declared.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko looks likely to be disappointed in his call for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to deploy naval vessels to the Sea of Azov, an offshoot of the Black Sea.

Russian Federation is resisting global calls to release three Ukrainian ships seized last month in the Kerch Strait, which controls access to the Sea of Azov near the Crimea region that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

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The second to respond was Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics - doing it also before the firing - who condemned the actions of Russian Federation in the Azov Sea as running counter to worldwide law, the Ukrainian website said.

"State Duma deputies strongly condemn the actions of the Ukrainian authorities and their Western patrons, aimed at aggravating the situation in the Black Sea region and in Europe in general", the Duma said in an appeal to parliaments and parliamentary organizations of the world.

As part of the 30-day martial law, all Russian males aged 16 to 60 have been barred from entering Ukraine, a move which Mr Poroshenko said was needed to prevent Russia further destabilising his country.

It also has raised concerns of a possible flare-up in a simmering war between Kyiv and Russia-backed separatists that has killed more than 10,300 people in eastern Ukraine since April 2014.

"The accusations against Russian Federation have no basis whatsoever", he said.

Mr Poroshenko has said he tried to arrange a phone call with Mr Putin to discuss the standoff but was refused.

According to a French aide, Friday's version entailed Putin drawing a map for Macron of the Kerch Strait, to buttress his position that the seized Ukrainian ships had intruded into Russian waters - a claim denied by Kiev.

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