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Iran Press TV

Kremlin rejects Ukraine's 'absurd' accusation about plan to seize Azov Sea ports

Iran Press TV

Mon Dec 3, 2018 03:42PM

The Kremlin has denounced as "absurd" a Ukrainian accusation that Russia is planning to seize major ports in the Sea of Azov in order to build a land corridor between the Crimean Peninsula and eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russia forces.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's statement about Russia planning to seize the ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk for a "corridor" from Donbass to Crimea was baseless and just another attempt to cause tensions.

"This statement is absolutely absurd; it is another attempt to somehow spark tensions. Unfortunately, it is clear that such attempts are likely to continue as the presidential election in Ukraine is nearing," Peskov said, adding, "Russia has never seized anything, or laid any corridors."

"That's why this is an absolutely ungrounded statement," the Kremlin spokesman stressed.

The Ukrainian president has previously accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of seeking to rebuild "the old Russian Empire" by what he claimed as seizing the whole Crimea.

Tensions over Ukraine further escalated on November 25 when Russian border patrols fired at three Ukrainian ships and then seized them along with their sailors because of illegal entry into Russian waters.

The incident took place in the Kerch Strait near Crimea, a former Ukrainian territory on the Black Sea that rejoined Russia in a referendum more than four years ago following deep political changes in Kiev where a pro-Western movement staged weeks of street protests that led to the ouster of the pro-Russia government.

People in Crimea and in the industrial eastern territories of Ukraine, areas which are dominated by ethnic Russians, effectively refused to endorse the new administration in Kiev. Crimea decided to rejoin Russia in a referendum in March 2014 and two provinces in the east revolted by establishing self-declared republics.

Pro-Russians have turned the two regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in Ukraine's volatile east – collectively known as the Donbass – into self-proclaimed republics.

Washington and its allies in Europe have slapped rounds of economic and security sanctions on Russia over the so-called annexation of Crimea and Moscow's alleged interference in Ukraine, especially in Donbass where pro-Russia groups have been battling Ukrainian military forces for the past four years.

Russia has downplayed the sanctions as insignificant while denying the West's accusation of having a hand in eastern Ukraine.

Moscow blasted Kiev's move in the Kerch Strait as a dangerous "provocation," while the European Union and NATO called for a de-escalation of tensions.

Kiev has imposed a 60-day martial law across Ukraine since November 28, following a sharp escalation in tensions between the two countries.

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