MOSCOW, the Russian Federation (BulgarianMilitary.com) – Yesterday (25 November), around 7am local time, two armored artillery boats (the Berdyansk and the Nikopol) and the Yany Kapu tugboat of the Ukrainian Navy, which were transiting from Odessa on the Black Sea to Mariupol in the Sea of Azov, had been seized by Russia, passing through the Kerch Strait, near the Russia-annexed Crimea. The incident was announced by the Russian and Ukrainian news agencies, and the two sides now blame each other for the reasons why it had occurred, escalating tensions between them, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.
It was also reported for injured Ukrainian servicemen during a fire opened by the Coast Guard of the FSB Border Service and the Black Sea Fleet in order to be stopped the Ukrainian vessels. The collision caused and damage to the Ukrainian tugboat’s engine, outer hull, and guardrail, for which the Ukraininan authorities blame the Russian side.
The yesterday’s situation, which had temporarily closed off the the Kerch Strait, was reported by the Public Relations Center of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). FSB, stating the reason for the use of weapons, said that the Ukrainian Navy vessels “had violated the state border of Russia” and made “another attempt of committing illegal activities in Russia’s territorial sea at 19:00 Moscow time on November 25”, by not responding to “the legitimate insistence” of the Russia’s FSB Border Guard Service to stop immediately and their performed “dangerous maneuvers.” As a result, Ukrainian Navy vessels were detained in Russia’s territorial waters in the Black Sea, and later delivered to the port of Kerch. FSB also reported for two more warships of the Ukrainian Navy that had sailed off from Berdyansk to join the three vessels but they later had turned back.
In FSB statement, it is also said that Ukraine was familiar with the procedure for passage of warships through Russia’s territorial sea and Kerch-Yenikale Canal. “They have already used that procedure for innocent passage. Before making such dangerous and irresponsible decisions, the Kiev leadership should have thought about possible consequences of its actions.”
On the other hand, Ukraine states that its actions were in accordance with international law. A statement that the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denied during his visit in Italy, saying that Russia’s actions over there are also consistent with international law because Kerch Strait is entirely Russian.
The Command of Ukraine’s Navy has criticized Russia for its “aggressive nature.” While the headquarters of the Ukrainian Naval Forces announced for Russian attack helicopters Ka-52, at the place, to those for which Russia has alsready reported – Su-25.
The commander of the Ukrainian Navy, Ihor Voronchenko commented that the crews of the armored artillery boats near the Kerch Strait are on combat alert. “This is a tense and unprecedented situation in the waters near the Strait and the Sea of Azov,” said Voronchenko.
At a meeting of the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council, held last night, it has been proposed the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to introduce 60-day martial law, the decision for which is scheduled to be approved by the Parliament later today. During the meeting, President Poroshenko criticized Russia for their actions and defined them as “intentional”. He added that the introduction of 60-day martial law does not mean war, but protection.
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Sources: TASS, Dnevnik