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World View: Russia Attacks Ukraine’s Navy and Blockades Ukraine’s Ports at Kerch Strait

Ukrainian frontier stands aboard a patrol boat at the commercial port of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov on August 14, 2018. - The small sea is located in a zone of heightened tensions between Russia and Ukraine: bordering the Crimean peninsula annexed by Russia and the Kremlin-backed rebel regions …

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Russia attacks Ukraine’s navy and blockades Ukraine’s ports at Kerch Strait
  • Russia confirms the attack on the Ukrainian ships

Russia attacks Ukraine’s navy and blockades Ukraine’s ports at Kerch Strait

Ukraine. In 2014, Russia invaded and occupied Donbas, and invaded and annexed Crimea. In 2018, Russia completed a bridge over the Kerch Strait, controlling access to the Sea of Azov.
Ukraine. In 2014, Russia invaded and occupied Donbas, and invaded and annexed Crimea. In 2018, Russia completed a bridge over the Kerch Strait, controlling access to the Sea of Azov.

Ukraine and Russia may be on the brink of resuming their war today after a major naval escalation where Russia’s military fired on Ukrainian navy ships in the Black Sea, boarded and seized the ships, and blockaded Ukraine’s ports at the Kerch Strait.

The sequence of events, according to Ukrainian media and mostly confirmed by Russian media, is as follows:

  • Three ships, two gunboats, and a tugboat left Ukraine’s Odessa seaport with a destination of the seaport of Mariupol in the Sea of Azov. Ukraine had informed the Russians of the plan.
  • The boats approached the Kerch Strait bridge, which Russia only opened a few months ago. In the past, Russian tugs escorted Ukrainian boats under the bridge without incident.
  • This time, the boats were monitored by two Russian helicopters.
  • A Russian coast guard vessel rammed the tugboat, damaging the ship’s engines and hull.
  • Russia’s coast guard opened live fire on the Ukrainian vessels, leaving six Ukrainian sailors wounded. Russians boarded the Ukrainian vessels and seized them.
  • Russia has moved an oil tanker into a position under the Kerch Strait bridge, where all traffic in and out of the Sea of Azov is blocked. There are reportedly dozens of cargo ships awaiting passage.

There is no word about how long the blockade will be in place.

Russia’s attack on Ukraine’s ships appears to be a continuation of the war between Russia and Ukraine that began in 2014. Russia invaded Donbas (eastern Ukraine) and is still occupying it, and then Russia invaded, occupied and annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.

In the past three years, Russia has built a bridge over the Kerch Strait between Russia and Occupied Crimea and has constantly harassed and blocked hundreds of commercial ships trying to reach Ukrainian ports.

Many observers believe that these steps are all in preparation for a naval assault on Mariupol, Berdyansk, and other Ukrainian ports along the Sea of Azov, with the objective of creating a land bridge between Russia and occupied Crimea and of taking full military control of the entire Sea of Azov.

The three seized ships are in Kerch seaport. There are no reports on the locations and health of the captured sailors.

Ukraine has called an emergency meeting of its national security and defense council and Ukraine’s parliament may vote on declaring martial law on Monday.

Last month, Orthodox Christian Patriarch Bartholomew I, leader of the Constantinople Patriarchate and “first among equals” leader of all Orthodox Christian churches and of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians, announced that the Orthodox Christian Church of Ukraine in Kiev is now independent of the Orthodox Christian Church of Moscow. This move has infuriated Russia, causing them to threaten retaliation. Sunday’s naval crisis may be one step in that retaliation. (Australia) and BBC and Ukrinform (Ukraine) and Daily Mail (London)

Russia confirms the attack on the Ukrainian ships

Russia on Sunday blockaded the Sea of Azov with a tanker underneath the Kerch Strait bridge (AP)
Russia on Sunday blockaded the Sea of Azov with a tanker underneath the Kerch Strait bridge (AP)

Before we quote the Russian statement about Sunday’s incident, we have to remind readers that Russia has repeatedly lied about everything, including the following:

  • Russian troops invaded eastern Ukraine (Donbas) and claimed that they were not Russian troops.
  • Russia lied about invading east Ukraine when it had Russian troops in east Ukraine.
  • Russia lied about invading Crimea and Putin said Russia had no intention of annexing Crimea, but then annexed Crimea a few days later and gave medals to the military officers who had invaded Crimea. Later, in a televised interview, Putin bragged that he had ordered the invasion and annexation of Crimea weeks before it occurred and lied about it.
  • Russians shot down the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 passenger plane using a Russian Buk 9M38 missile, killing hundreds of innocent mostly Dutch passengers, and then claimed that the U.S. had shot it down to embarrass Russia.
  • On March 4 of this year, Russia used the Russia-developed nerve agent Novichok to poison former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the UK and then claimed that the perpetrators were tourists. They have been identified as top-level Kremlin spies.

There are many additional examples, especially in Syria. Any statement by a Russian official has to be assumed to be a lie unless it is confirmed by a Western politician or Western media. Russia’s press is tightly controlled by Russia’s government.

On the other hand, Ukraine has a free press and statements by Ukrainian sources during the last four years have generally proved out to be consistently true.

So with that introduction, here’s the Russian statement as published in Tass:

MOSCOW, November 26. /TASS/. All three vessels of the Ukrainian Navy, which violated the Russian state border, have been detained in the Black Sea, weapons were used to force them to stop, the Public Relations Center of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) reported.

“The Ukrainian Navy’s vessels the Berdyansk, the Nikopol and the Yany Kapu, which violated Russia’s state border this morning, made another attempt of committing illegal activities in Russia’s territorial sea at 19:00 Moscow time on November 25,” the FSB said. “They did not respond to legitimate demands by the ships and boats of Russia’s FSB Border Guard Service escorting them to stop immediately and performed dangerous maneuvers.”

According to the FSB, “weapons were used to force the Ukrainian warships to stop.” As a result, all three vessels of the Ukrainian Navy were detained in Russia’s territorial waters in the Black Sea. “Three wounded military servicemen of the Ukrainian armed forces received medical assistance,” the FSB said, adding that there was no threat to their lives.

A criminal case has been initiated over violation of Russia’s state border.

The FSB stressed that Ukraine was aware of the procedure for warships’ passage through Russia’s territorial sea and Kerch-Yenikale Canal. “They have already used that procedure for innocent passage,” it said.

The FSB’s border directorate for Crimea earlier reported that three Ukrainian warships had illegally crossed Russia’s state border in the Black Sea and entered Russia’s territorial waters performing dangerous maneuvers. Later on, the FSB said that two more Ukrainian warships had sailed off from Berdyansk to join the three vessels. However, they later turned back.

The FSB stressed that “before making such dangerous and irresponsible decisions, the Kiev leadership should have thought about possible consequences of its actions.”

Russia’s Federal Security Service said it had irrefutable evidence of Kiev’s using the Ukrainian Navy to stage a provocation in the Black Sea and promised it would be made public soon.

Three Ukrainian Navy vessels, which violated Russia’s state border and were detained in the Black Sea are being delivered to the port of Kerch (a city in eastern Crimea), Anton Lozovoy, an officer of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) State Border Directorate for Crimea, said in a video commentary on Monday.

“All three vessels have been detained and are being delivered to the port of Kerch,” he said.

According to Lozovoy, three Ukrainian military servicemen who sustained minor wounds have received medical care.

Russia claims that they have “irrefutable evidence” of a provocation, but until that “irrefutable evidence” is released and evaluated by Western analysts, we have to assume that most of the above statement is a lie.

The Russian statement does not mention ramming the tugboat.

The Russian statement says that the Ukrainian ships were in Russian territorial waters. Until this is confirmed by Western sources, we have to assume that this is a lie.

The Ukraine war has been ongoing for four years, and people are still being killed on both sides. Sunday’s incident is a major escalation, and it could mean that Russia is planning to invade and annex the region of Ukraine along the Sea of Azov. Tass (Moscow) and Aesop’s Fable: The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Related Articles:

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Ukraine, Sea of Azov, Russia, Kerch Strait, Crimea, Mariupol, Berdyansk, Patriarch Bartholomew I, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, Buk 9M38 missile, Sergei Skripal, Yulia Skripal, Novichok, Anton Lozovoy, Russian Federal Security Service, FSB
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