The Ukrainian navy reported in late November that in an unprovoked act of aggression, Russian navy ships had attacked its vessels near the Kerch Strait and unlawfully captured its three navy vessels.
Ukraine also said that Russia was blocking the passage through the Kerch Strait by positioning a large cargo ship at its mouth.
The maneuver was assisted by naval vessels and air support. The Russian version of the blockage is that it is closing the strait for ‘security reasons.’ But most of the world knows that is not accurate.
The Tipping Point
The Russian federal security agency FSB said that it had irrefutable proof of Ukraine’s attempt at provocation.
Ukrainian navy vessels had approached the Kerch waterway from different directions and attempted to enter it ‘illegally.’ As a result, Russia had to seize those vessels. Elaborating on its announcement, FSB said that it will soon release proof of Ukrainian complicity.
The fact, as reported by Reuters, defers the official Russians stand. According to a bilateral treaty, both Russia and Ukraine have a right to passage through the Kerch Strait. Moscow has gained strategic dominance over the waterway by building a bridge over the strait.
This gives them a vantage position which is critical in any form of warfare, and utilizing it to block Ukraine from using the strait, – a gateway to Crimea and southern mainland Russia.
According to Moscow, Kiev deliberately avoided informing it about the Ukrainian vessels passing through the strait.
This was perceived as a threat to the Russian territorial integrity, Moscow added. In a curious twist to the event, Moscow even opined that the entire exercise was a publicity stunt by the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who is facing a general election next year.
An Act of War
On the other hand, President Petro Poroshenko called for an emergency meeting of the military and security chiefs, to take stalk of the ‘dangerous development.’ After the meeting, a Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesperson said that with this naval attack was a new way of Russian aggression and will be dealt with firmly.
The Secretary for National Security, Oleksander Turchynov, alleged that the unprovoked aggression by Russia was an ‘act of war.’ He said that the country’s leadership reviewed the situation and the circumstances leading to it, and had concluded that the action amounted to unprovoked aggression by Russia.
The NATO has responded to the situation, expressing its support for the independence of Ukraine. It has urged Russia to respect international law (when it never has) and allow unrestricted access to Ukrainian ports.
The EU has urged for restraint to both the sides and appealed the respective militaries to take measures to rapidly de-escalate the situation.
Meanwhile, the UN Security Council gathered for an emergency meeting at the behest of Ukraine a day after the incident, to discuss and de-escalate the conflict situation.
Taking a serious view of this war-like scenario, President Petro Poroshenko has proposed to impose military law for six months in Ukraine.