Russian Federation blockades strategic waterway to stop Ukrainian ships entering Azov Sea

25 November, 2018, 22:52 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • Ukrainian Navy Press Service on Sunday Nov. 25 2018 two Ukrainian forces navy ships are seen near Crimea. The Ukrainian navy says a Russian coast guard vessel rammed a Ukrainian navy tugboat near Crimea dama

Later, press center of the Ukrainian Navy has confirmed that after leaving the 12-mile zone, Russia's coast guard ships opened fire at Ukraine's navy group.

The ships "illegally entered a temporarily closed area of Russian territorial waters".

A Russian coast guard vessel rammed a Ukrainian navy tugboat near Crimea, damaging the ship's engines and hull, the Ukrainian navy said Sunday.

The Sea of Azov, the Kerch Strait, and the Black Sea waters off Crimea's southern coast have been areas of heightened tensions between Moscow and Kyiv since Russian Federation seized Ukraine's Crimea region in March 2014 and shortly thereafter began supporting pro-Russia separatists in a conflict in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 10,300 people.

The Ukrainian navy said one its vessels had been hit and a crew member injured in the skirmishes near the Sea Of Azov. Tugboat Yani Kapu, which had been rammed by a Russian coast guard boat earlier today, was also forced to stop.

The Ukrainian side said notification about the transfer plans had been done in advance in accordance with global rules to ensure safe navigation. It has claimed the waters off Crimea after annexing the peninsula in 2014.

It said its vessels had every right to be where they were and that the ships had been en route from the Black Sea port of Odessa to Mariupol, a journey that requires them to go through the Kerch Strait.

Russia blocks Kerch Strait amid confrontation with Ukraine
Ukrainian navy says one of its tugboats was rammed by a Russian ship near Crimea

At the time of writing, dozens of cargo ships are stuck, awaiting for the passage to be reopened, based on AIS (Automatic Identification System), an automatic tracking system used by ships and Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) for identification and geo-localization of vessels, by mutually exchanging data with other ships and AIS Base stations.

More than 10,000 people have died in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk region since separatists moved against the Ukrainian state in April 2014.

A Rossiya 24 correspondent reporting from the area of the Kerch Strait bridge near Crimea said Russia's tactic had completely blocked the bridge, which connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, and that Russian military helicopters were circling overhead.

It said that Ukraine's ships were carrying out "provocative actions" aimed at creating "a conflict situation in this region".

The statement did not mention ramming a Ukrainian tugboat. However, Russia has been asserting greater control over the passage since 2015.

The agency, known as the FSB, said in a statement Sunday night that "there is irrefutable evidence that Kiev prepared and orchestrated provocations.in the Black Sea".

The Ukrainian navy made the announcement in a statement late Sunday.

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