Ukraine seeks consultations of Budapest memo signatories over tensions in Kerch Strait

Remigio Civitarese
Dicembre 8, 2018

The USS "McCampbell sailed in the vicinity of Peter the Great Bay to challenge Russia's excessive maritime claims and uphold the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea enjoyed by the United States and other Nations", US Navy Lt. Rachel McMarr, a spokesperson for the US Pacific Fleet, told CNN in a statement.

The Russian moves have restricted access for Ukrainian ships to the Sea of Azov and Mariupol, an important Ukrainian trade port.

As of Monday, ships were allowed to move in both directions through the Kerch Strait separating the Azov and Black Seas, according to Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan.

In a statement by the Embassy of Ukraine in Nigeria, Mykola Yaremchuk, first secretary of the Embassy of Ukraine said the attack on the ships was carried out during a sea crossing from the port of Odessa to the port of Mariupol, in accordance with the provisions of all effective multilateral and bilateral global treaties and navigation rules.

The incident was the most risky in years between the ex-Soviet neighbours, which have been locked in a confrontation since 2014 when Russian Federation annexed Crimea and supported an insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

The passage at the start of this month of a small number of ships doesn't resolve the issue, Ukraine's Sea Ports Administration said Tuesday.

The U.S. and its allies have condemned what they described as unjustified use of force by Russian Federation and urged it to release the ships and their crews.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko responded to the standoff by introducing martial law for 30 days, something Ukraine hadn't done even after Crimea's annexation and amid large-scale fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists in 2014 and 2015.

The Kremlin has called the naval incident a provocation meant to shore up Poroshenko's sagging popularity.

Kremlin critics have said Russian Federation is preparing a show trial of the sailors.

Poroshenko insisted that the seamen's detention was illegal.

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