Russia may take actions to protect its vessels in Azov Sea

The Man

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Jul 2011
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MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin said on Friday that it reserved the right to protect the interests of Russian vessels in the Azov Sea where tensions have been rising with Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call that any actions would be in line with international maritime law and said the Kremlin was closely following the situation in the Azov Sea.
Russia may take actions to protect its vessels in Azov Sea: Kremlin | Reuters

About the conflict here:
Sea Of Troubles: Azov Emerging As 'Tinderbox' In Russia-Ukraine Conflict
European Parliament Urges Tough Stand On Russia Over Sea Of Azov ‘Blockade’
Back in September, Ukrainian border guards filmed a Russian Coast Guard cutter aggressively approaching them in Azov

Later, a Russian Su-27 buzzed Ukrainian ships there also

The Ukrainians started this whole mess, few months ago, by detaining a Russian fishing boat from Crimea, in Azov.

Russia labelled it an act of "piracy", and moved their forces into Azov, arrested Ukrainian boats in return, and are also allegedly harassing and delaying commercial shipping to Mariupol and Berdyansk, Ukraine's main Azov ports, some Kiev now calling it effectively a blockade, which is hurting their economy, which, of course, is the fucking point, obviously...

Russian nationalists in Moscow demand more, a total blockade and effective annexation of the whole Azov; while Ukrainian nationalists in Kiev have accused their Navy and Coast Guard of cowardice for not going out and confronting the Russians (With what? They are totally outnumbered and outgunned there...)

It's getting more and more tense over there... I hope they don't start shooting at each other soon. Donbass is more than enough...
 
Likes: Hollywood

The Man

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Jul 2011
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Iryna Lutsenko, the President’s Representative to the Verkhovna Rada, Ukrainian people's deputy, stated that if Russia blocks Azov Sea, Ukraine’s reaction will be vigorous, as she said at the briefing in Kyiv, Ukrinform reported.

“Ukraine’s reaction will be vigorous, we have a few lawsuits on Russia’s violation of the International Convention of the Law of the Sea. Azov Sea is an inland sea, so the fact that no agreement on the mutual use was signed means that we have to apply to this international convention… Besides, the lawsuits, of Ukraine’s Security Service and border guards will also respond to this,” she noted.

She stated that if the Sea of Azov is blocked, criminal proceedings against Russian officials will be opened.

In addition, the President’s Representative said that Russia’s provocations in the area means that Putin does not intend to stop, he wants to activate, especially during the pre-election period.

“Ukraine’s South hinges on the usage of Azov Sea. Putin’s activation means only that he wants to create an unstable atmosphere in Ukraine in 2019,” Lutsenko said.

Previously, Ukraine arrested 15 ships that entered ports of the annexed Crimea. This is due to the Ukrainian law that claims the ports of Crimea (Yevpatoria, Kerch, Sevastopol, Feodosiya, Yalta) closed. The respective legislative acts were approved in April and June 2014.

Thus, any vessel that enters the closed seaports and terminals in the occupied Crimea breach the Ukrainian and the international law. Such action is considered an undermining of Ukraine's sovereignty and results in responsibility for the vessel's owner, operator and the crew.
Russia threatens to shut down Azov Sea, Ukraine to react vigorously
 

The Man

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Jul 2011
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HALIFAX, Nova Scotia – A dispute over shipping lanes is threatening to reignite the 4-year-old simmering war between Ukraine and Russia following confrontations sparked by both sides in recent days.

Russian border guards on Monday detained Ukrainian fishing vessels in the Sea of Azov, a strategically important body of water contained to the north by Ukraine, to the west by the Crimean Peninsula and to the east and south by Russia. Monday's incident came days after Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed Kiev for detaining Russian commercial ships also in the Azov in what he described as "a totally illegal move" and which Kremlin officials have warned may prompt retaliation.

"It's a very deliberate attempt to raise the stakes," Ukrainian Defense Minister Pavlo Klimkin said Saturday on the sidelines of an international security conference that took place here. "It's about creeping annexation of the Azov Sea, but it's also about Crimea."

Crimea came under Russian control in 2014 through what Moscow says was a public referendum but what Kiev and its Western backers consider an illegal annexation. That same year, Russia began supporting separatist rebels in the eastern Ukrainian region known as Donbas. Klimkin estimates as many as 5,000 Russian forces and 1,500 tanks remain there.
Klimkin said the campaign in the Azov is designed to intimidate Ukraine and to disrupt its economic activities.

Twice last year, Russia shut off access to a key passageway to the Azov known as the Kerch Strait, and its ships have blocked ports in the Ukrainian towns of Berdyansk and Mariupol. The economic disruptions cost Ukraine as much as $40 million each year, according to an analysis by private intelligence firm Stratfor.

Kiev in 2016 filed a formal grievance to a tribunal in The Hague claiming that Russia's actions violate the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The proceedings are ongoing.

Both sides have indicated they're willing to further militarize the region. Ukrainian Prime Minister Petro Poroshenko pledged in September to build a naval base in the Azov before the end of the year. Kiev also took possession of two U.S. Coast Guard Island-class cutters earlier this year.

Though it doesn't have any permanent naval bases in the area, Russia has in recent months deployed at least 10 warships and 40 patrol boats to the Azov, Stratfor reports. Senior Russian political leaders have said they have no intentions of boosting the country's military presence there.

It's yet unclear how far the U.S. is willing to go in support for Ukraine. In a joint statement after Klimkin's meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week, both sides "condemned Russia's aggressive actions against international shipping transiting the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait to Ukrainian ports" and agreed that "Russia's aggressive activities in the Sea of Azov have brought new security, economic, social, and environmental threats to the entire Azov-Black Sea region."

The U.S. has continued sanctions against Russia, as well as lethal arms shipments and training programs for Ukrainian forces in retaliation for what it considers destabilizing activity in and around the region. However it's questionable – perhaps even doubtful – whether Washington would be willing to go to war with Russia over the former Soviet state.
Klimkin admits that the Ukrainian military is unmatched to take on Russia's increasingly sophisticated armed forces, but adds that his country is willing to fight back.

"We are very decisive on defending our interests, and we can't let the Russians take up control of the whole Azov Sea," Klimkin said. "The Ukrainian army is not the same army like was the case five years ago. I believe we are prepared."
Ukraine’s War With Russia Poised to Escalate in Azov Sea
 

The Man

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Jul 2011
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A shipping dispute between Ukraine and Russia is at risk of escalating into a "great war" as Western nations seek to face down aggression from Vladimir Putin, a former Ukrainian general has warned.

Ukraine has accused Russia of harassing of ships and increasing its military presence in the Sea of Azov, a strategic ocean route linked to the Black Sea by the narrow Strait of Kerch, according to the Daily Star.

A dispute over access to the sea, shared by Ukraine and Russia, has provoked an acrimonious war of words, with both sides accusing each other of illegally detaining their ships.

Tensions over the thorny issue of access to the sea have escalated since Russia built a bridge, known as the Kerch Strait Bridge, linking the annexed Crimean Peninsula with the mainland.

Former Ukrainian lieutenant-general Igor Romanenko said the blocking of ships could prompt the West to impose further sanctions on Russia, which could have devastating consequences.

He said a "large-scale war" is possible if Russia continues to "aggravate the situation" in the Sea of Azov by conducting invasive inspections and seizing fishing ships.

Romanenko, former Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, said Ukraine will not "sit idle" and will "defend their positions" if necessary.

However, he said Ukraine should be wary about resorting to military action because Russia has a superior army and "we will not be able to answer," he said according to various Russian and Ukrainian news outlets.

"In this case, you need to focus and translate the situation in a large-scale war, which is currently impractical for Ukraine," he said.

The tense situation in the Sea of Azov comes amid the backdrop of armed conflict between the Kyiv government and the Russia-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine.

As tensions simmer, Russia's foreign ministry issued a statement warning that "responsibility for possible further deterioration of the situation in the Azov-Kerch Strait area is with Ukraine and other states supporting its provocative actions."

In the statement, the ministry denied Russia was militarizing the Sea of Azov saying forces have been deployed for "guarding the Crimean Bridge."

Inspections of ships in the waters are legitimate and not discriminatory, the ministry added.

Russian lawmaker Frants Klintsevich, who sits on the defense committee in the upper house of parliament, said on November 16 that Russia could "cut off" the Sea of Azov "in minutes" in response to the detention of Russian ships.

"It doesn't matter if we are talking about the detention of Russian ships or ships of foreign states," he said.

"By such actions, Ukraine itself really breaks the agreement on the Sea of Azov, from which only it will suffer."

Meanwhile, UK defence secretary Gavin Williamson announced a series of military exercises and the deployment of more troops and a Royal Navy ship to Ukraine.

In a meeting with the visiting Ukrainian defence minister Stepan Poltorak, Williamson said the deployment would strengthen their military ties "in the face of intensifying threats and aggression" from Russia.

An unspecified number of British forces would be sent to train Ukrainian special forces and marines early next year, The Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed.

The HMS Echo, a hydrographic survey ship, will be deployed to the Black Sea region, complete with its crew of 72, the MoD said. Williamson said: "As long as Ukraine faces Russian hostilities, it will find a steadfast partner in the United Kingdom."

"By continuing to work together, whether through training programmes or military exercises, we help Ukraine to stand up for our shared values.

"Those values of freedom and democracy cannot be traded." "I have witnessed on the frontline the effects of the conflict in the East and this has completely reinforced my support for Ukraine's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity."
Ukrainian general predicts 'big war' with Russia as Sea of Azov shipping row escalates – media
 

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