Ukraine Declared (a 30 day) State of War with Russia over Incident at Kerch Strait

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(— November 28, 2018) — The Russian Federal Security Service said one of the detained Ukrainian sailors acknowledged that the passage of Ukrainian ships through the Kerch Strait was meant as a provocation, and a video was posted on which three Ukrainians have confirmed that they have violated the Russian border. In addition, Ukrainian Security Service chief (SBU) Vasil Gricak confirmed information about the presence of two military intelligence officers of the SBU on the ships of the Ukrainian Navy.

According to international law when a foreign military ship enters another nation’s waters besides announcing its arrival and asking permeation for a safe passage, it needs to clearly display that it has not intend to use weapons by covering cannon and gun barrels. Ukraine military boats, however, did not do that.

“The radio request by the Russian Coast Guard to Ukraine military boats was deliberately ignored. There were weapons and ammunition on board. I was aware that this was a provocative action” said the Ukrainian captain of the third class Vladimir Lesovoy, the Russian news agency TASS reports.

Lesovoy added he had been ordered to leave from Odessa to reach Mariupol, and the only way is to sail between Russian mainland and the island of Crimea which represents Russian territorial waters since annexing the island.

On the video that was released, all three Ukrainian naval sailors confirmed that they had violated the boundaries of the Russian border. However, it is not possible to determine whether the soldiers were forced to do so, because it was clear that at least one of them was reading his lines from the screen.

The FSB said that two members of the Ukrainian security service coordinated the provocation in the Kerky resort, and that the entry of Ukrainian ships into Russian territorial waters “was directly ordered by the Kiev authorities”.

Ukrainian ships first informed the Russian side that they did not plan to pass through the Kerch Strait, said in a statement by the FSB. The Russian side informed them of the rules of the border crossing and the rules for crossing through the passage, and according to which it is envisioned to submit a request to the seaport of Kerch 24-48 hours earlier, the FSB said, adding that the certificate was issued four hours before the passage.

Russian authorities claim that Ukrainian ships did not submit a request, instead they said they did not have the intention to “cross the Russian border” but the problem is that Ukraine still believes the island Krimea is not Russian territory, even after Russian Federation build the bridge connecting the mainland with the island. So, they advanced through… and that turned out to be a mistake.

According to the confirmed operational information of the SBU, one of the two Russian military jets engaged the Ukrainian war ships seriously injuring at least one sailor. Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko stated at least six sailors were injured, one of them seriously, and others were traumatized by “Russian aggressiveness.”  After the incident, Poroshenko declared a martial law and introduced the “state of war” with Russia in next 30 days. The EU and NATO called for a de-escalation of the situation.

The Kremlin announced today that the introduction of a state of war in Ukraine after the incident in the Kerch strait could lead to an increase in tensions in the southeast of Ukraine.

It was clear this year that the Azov Sea, which is connected with the Black Sea by the Kerch Strait, will become a new hotspot for conflict. The Azov Sea has only one narrow access point to the Black Sea, which, after the assimilation of Crimea to Russia is under the control of that country.

When the construction of a bridge connecting Russia with the peninsula was completed in May, the passage of merchant ships from around the world into the Azov Sea got further complicated. Ukraine has been appealing to the international community for months, arguing that Russia is breaking a law in the Azov Sea and a mutual agreement, according to which both countries can use the Azov Sea.

Kiev claims that merchant ships at the entrance to the Azov Sea have recently been forced to wait for up to seven days, and that Russian Coast Guard retains and searches many of these ships. According to Ukrainian media the Russians allegedly searched these ships looking for explosive materials fearing it may be used to sabotage the new Crimean Bridge.

Ukraine claims that because Russia slowed the transportation through Kerch Strait, its port of Mariupol and Beranjan suffer damage. The fact is that these ports made decisions a few months ago regarding layoffs, or shortening the working hours of their staff.

After Kiev declared a martial law over the incident, a large column of Russian military hardware, including anti-ship missile systems, has been spotted moving towards the Crimean city of Kerch.