Kiev/Moscow: “There’s a war going on, initiated by Russia… and this war is raging at the sea too, since 2014. Whether we want and don’t want to lay low at bases and offices; we have to fulfil our duties regarding the protection of our sovereign interests. And the sovereign interests of Ukraine apply to the Kerch Strait as well,” warned the Ukrainian Naval Chief. A month has passed for the detention of the Ukrainian ships by Russia, and the issue is still unresolved. Against this background the warning issued by the Ukrainian naval chief draws attention.
Two Ukrainian gunboats and one tugboat sailed into the Azov Sea through the Strait of Kerch. Russia acted saying that the ships entered the Russian territory without any intimation. Three sailors on board the vessels were injured, and Russia detained the crew and officials of the Ukrainian ships. Ukraine reacted strongly to this, declaring martial law in the country.
Russia has been firm on its stand even after pressures from the UN Security Council, European countries and even the United States. At the same time, Russia has increased army deployment along the Ukrainian border and the advanced air defence system, S-400 is said to have been deployed in the Crimea region. The United States and the European countries have decided to stand firmly behind Ukraine and have indicated deployment of warships in the Ukrainian marine region.
Ukraine, riding on the international support, has made its policy aggressive and indicated sending more ships to the Sea of Azov. Now, Ukraine has clarified that it will not retreat, declaring the intent of facing Russia directly in conflict.
Vice Admiral Andriy Tarasov of the Ukrainian navy said, “There’s a war going on, initiated by Russia…and this war is raging at the sea too, since 2014. Whether we want and don’t want to lay low at bases and offices; we have to fulfil our duties regarding the protection of our sovereign interests. And the sovereign interests of Ukraine apply to the Kerch Strait as well. He further continued, “If we face an act of aggression, we will be ready to have different rules, particularly regarding the use of weapons, if we are forced to do so, and if we are fully entitled by international and Ukrainian law.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin endorsed the adamant stand against Russia and warned that the Ukrainian ships would once again travel to the Kerch Strait. He also indicated that Ukraine would take help from the international community for this purpose.
Russia has reacted to the Ukrainian aggression with a warning that the western countries should not take any inciting action, falling prey to the Ukrainian pressures.