Bellingcat Publishes Kerch Incident Investigation
The report starts with the official versions of the events released by both parties, and focuses around their conflicting points
Photo from Ukrinform
Bellingcat, a publication that was one of the first to uncover evidence of Russian involvement in eastern Ukraine, has released its investigation regarding the incident between Ukrainian and Russian Naval Forces on Nov 25 in the area of Kerch Strait.
The report starts with the official versions of the events released by both parties, and focuses around their conflicting points.
“Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) claims that Russian vessels attempted to hail the Ukrainian ships and ask them to turn back, as they were not allowed to transit the Kerch Strait without a Russian navigator on board. The Ukrainians, for their part, claim they were illegally intercepted and had the right to free navigation through the strait,” the report says.
The investigation was based on videos that appeared in the media shortly after the incident, as well as the data of communications of the Russian Navy intercepted and released by the Ukrainian Security Service.
One of the facts released is that Ukrainian vessels did enter the Russian-claimed territorial waters, not just of occupied Crimea, but of mainland Russia, but the publication also noted the fact that: “Ukraine, as well as most Western countries, does not recognise Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and by extension its territorial sea. Moreover, Ukraine has cited a 2003 agreement with Russia that denotes the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait as a shared waterway, allowing free passage.”
However, the report states that after 6p.m. local time, the Ukrainian ships attempted to leave the area, and return to their home port of Odesa.
“They were, by all accounts pursued, intercepted, fired on, and boarded. Several Ukrainian soldiers were injured and the ships were later captured by Russian Naval forces.”
Moreover, the shooting of the Berdyansk boat most likely took place in international waters, even though the Russian FSB claims that Berdyansk was struck within the “territorial waters of Russia.” However, the location date provided by them does not confirm this to be true.
“As can be seen in the above image, the FSB data, if correct, shows that the ‘Berdyansk’ was 22.72km from the coast of Crimea, and more than 500 meters outside of Russian-claimed territorial waters when it came under fire,” the investigation states.
The overall summary also concludes that “the Ukrainian tug ‘Yani Kapu’ was intentionally rammed at least four times over a period of at least an hour.”
This is according to the footage of the Russian vessel ramming into the Ukarinian boat. It is backed up with data intercepted from the Russian Navy.
On Nov. 25, two Ukrainian armored ships called Berdiansk and Nikopol, and a tugboat Yany Kapu, were captured by Russian ships near the Kerch Strait when moving from the port of Odesa to the port of Mariupol. Twenty-four Ukrainian sailors were taken captive.
All sailors have been detained until Jan. 25, 2019, and been transferred to Moscow detention centers.