The President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko urged the EU and the US to prohibit Russian vessels from entering European and American ports.
In an interview with Fox News, he stated that this should be the response to Russia’s actions in the Black and Azov seas, which he labeled as “aggression.” According to Poroshenko, Russia continues to block the Azov sea, for ships of the European Union as well.
The Ukrainian President once again urged NATO to send ships to the Black Sea, and for the West to impose a new set of “Azov” sanctions against Moscow.
The President of Ukraine stated that the response by the West was decisive after Russia seized Ukrainian ships and arrested sailors on November 25th. However, he indicated that he expects actions and not just words.
Earlier on Saturday, representatives of the Russian FSB stated that the Ukrainian military ships violated the passage of the Kerch Strait. They explained the detention of the vessels saying that they were fearful that the ships would attack the Kerch bridge. The FSB also refused to consider the arrested Ukrainian sailors as prisoners of war, pointing out that there is no state of war between Russia and Ukraine. Russian representatives also rejected accusations of a blockade of Ukrainian ports.
Earlier, Western countries called on Moscow to release the 23 arrested sailors and return the ships to Ukraine. The new leader of the German CDU, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, said she is not excluding a ban on the entry of Russian vessels coming in from the Azov Sea to European ports. The German Foreign Minister, Heiko Mass, however, made it clear that at the current moment Berlin does not support expanding sanctions against Russia, fearing that this step will lead to further escalation of the conflict.
On the morning of November 25, Ukraine informed the Russian port of its intention to transfer three ships through the Kerch Strait, as required by the Agreement on the joint use of the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait. However, at around 8:00 a.m., Russian ships carried out acts of provocation against the Ukrainian vessels, even ramming into the Yany Kapu tugboat.
Russia later accused the Ukrainian ships of illegally entering its territorial waters, claiming that they were “maneuvering dangerously” and “not complying with the legitimate demands of the Russian authorities”. Russia also physically blocked the Kerch Strait with a transport ship. The Ukrainian ships decided to return to Odessa, but they were chased and subsequently attacked by the Russian military. The Berdiansk and Nikopol boats were hit, and two crew members were wounded. All three of the ships were seized by Russia.
On November 28, the Kremlin-controlled court of Simferopol placed the Ukrainian sailors under 2 months of arrest – until January 25, 2019.