EU, Canada and US accuse Russia of restricting navigation through the Kerch Strait
The European Union countries, Canada and the United States condemn the inspections of the ships conducted by Russia in the Kerch Strait, as well as navigation restrictions caused by the construction of the Kerch Strait bridge, reported the Embassy of Ukraine in the United Kingdom.
The statement was made after the International Maritime Organization (IMO) reviewed Ukraine’s complaint about “unauthorized construction and opening by Russia of a bridge across the Kerch Strait as well as the discriminatory inspections of commercial vessels bound for Ukraine's Sea of Azov ports”.
“The Ukrainian delegation called on the Russian Federation once again to release the 24 Ukrainian servicemen who were detained while passing through the Kerch Strait,” the report said.
On 25 November last year, Russia attacked and captured the Ukrainian military boats Berdyansk and Nikopol and the tugboat Yany Kapu in neutral waters. All 24 Ukrainians on board were accused of violating the Russian state border, arrested, and transferred from Kerch to Moscow. Ukraine considered this an act of military aggression, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe recognized the captured sailors as prisoners of war.
US President Donald Trump canceled his planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin because of the Kerch Strait incident. US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker similarly called off his scheduled negotiation session with Russian Presidential Aide Vladislav Surkov.
Oleksandr Turchynov, Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said in December that Ukraine had invited its international partners to take part in a passage of naval ships from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov through the Kerch Strait. The Russian media warned that this could “aggravate the situation”.