Ukraine to Send Naval Ships Through Kerch Strait
Otherwise Russia will fully occupy the Sea of Azov - Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak
Photo The Associated Press
Ukraine’s defense ministry warned Russia on Friday that it will soon send navy ships through the Kerch Strait where Russia fired on and seized three Ukrainian vessels two weeks ago.
The announcement sets up another possible flashpoint in the long-simmering conflict between Russia and Ukraine that erupted in 2014 with Russia’s illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula burst into the open on Nov. 25 when Russian border guards opened fire on three Ukrainian navy vessels that were moving through the Kerch Strait near Crimea and seized the ships and their crews.
Ukraine responded by introducing martial law for 30 days, a measure Kyiv did not take even after Crimea’s illegal annexation and amid large-scale fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists in 2014-2015.
As part of martial law, Ukraine has beefed up its forces on the border with Russia and called up reservists for training.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak told reporters on Friday that his country intends to send naval ships through the Kerch Strait soon, saying that “otherwise Russia will fully occupy the Sea of Azov.”
Ukraine has ports both on the Black Sea and on the Sea of Azov which are linked by the Kerch Strait that separates Crimea from Russia.
|Source||The Associated Press|