As of November 28, the Ukrainian ports at Mariupol and Berdyansk in the Sea of Azov have effectively been blocked by Russia, with ships unable to arrive or depart.
This was reported by Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure Volodymyr Omelyan on Facebook.
“According to operational information, 18 ships are waiting to enter the Sea of Azov: four heading for the Berdyansk port and 14 for the Mariupol port. There is also a queue waiting to leave the Sea of Azov to the Black Sea: three ships are unable to depart from the port of Berdyansk, and six ships from the port of Mariupol. Another eight ships are standing at berths in the port. A total of 35 ships are being blocked,” Omelyan noted.
According to him, on the evening of November 28, only movement towards the Russian ports in the Sea of Azov was being allowed.
“That is, Russia has blocked the Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov. Russia’s actions are evidence of a purposeful escalation of the situation in the Sea of Azov and the destabilization of the region. The aim is obvious – to block the operation of Ukrainian ports in the waters of the Sea of Azov, and to gradually force Ukraine out of our legitimate territories which are affirmed by the rules of international law,” the minister stressed.
According to data from MarineTraffic, an online service tracking movement of ships, a large number of ships was accumulating on both sides of the Kerch Bridge at the entrance to the Kerch-Yenikale Canal on the evening of November 28. The delayed ships include tankers and freight ships flying the flags of Panama, Malta, Azerbaijan and other countries.
As reported previously, on November 25 Russia closed the Kerch Strait to all civilian vessels due to the situation surrounding three Ukrainian military boats. However, Russia let through three of its own vessels, while continuing to block the Ukrainian vessels from entering the Sea of Azov. Russian and Crimean media reported that passage through the strait was reopened to civilian vessels on November 26.
The Ukrainian Navy reported that on November 25, Russian border patrol ships carried out “blatantly aggressive actions” against Ukrainian vessels in the Kerch Strait. The Russian border boat Don even rammed into the Ukrainian tugboat Yany Kapu.
On November 28, a Kremlin-controlled court in Simferopol placed all the detained Ukrainian naval personnel and SBU (Ukrainian Security Service) agents under arrest until January 25. The arrested Ukrainian sailors are being threatened with up to 6 years of imprisonment.