Kiev Claims Kerch Strait Provocation Meant to Show Capabilities of Its Vessels
16:17 29.11.2018(updated 16:55 29.11.2018)
KIEV (Sputnik) - Kiev has sent naval ships to the Kerch Strait to signal its presence in the region and demonstrate the capabilities of its vessels, Ukrainian Navy Commander Ihor Voronchenko said on Thursday.
'We aimed to show… our face in the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov, and demonstrate what these naval boats are capable of', Voronchenko said, as quoted by Ukraine's UNIAN news agency.
The Ukrainian Navy commander noted that he did not consider the decision to dispatch the ships to the region to be a mistake.
On Sunday, two Ukrainian gunboats and a tugboat entered Russian territorial waters illegally as they tried to sail through a temporarily closed area in the Kerch Strait. Their crews were detained by the Russian border service after they failed to respond to warnings and a lawful demand to stop. A Ukrainian naval officer later confessed he was aware of the provocative nature of their manoeuvres.
Commenting on the incident, Russian President Vladimir Putin described it as a provocation, which was likely related to the low approval rating of Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko ahead of the upcoming presidential election. Putin noted that two Ukrainian Security Service officers were among the crew and were effectively in charge of the operation. The president also stressed that Russian border service agents were fulfilling their duty to protect the country's borders.
In response to the situation in the Kerch Strait, the Ukrainian authorities introduced martial law in selected regions of Ukraine along the border with Russia as well as along the coast of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov for 30 days.
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