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Ukraine Seeks To Block Russian Ships From Transiting Bosphorus Straits

Ukraine asked Turkey to block Russian ships from sailing through the Bosphorus Straits.  This is an unthinkable request, however.

Ukraine request, then the Russian response.

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Ukraine to insist on closing Bosphorus to Russian ships – Navy commander

Ukraine will insist on closing the Bosphorus Strait to Russian ships, Ukrainian Navy Commander Ihor Voronchenko has said.

He said this at the 2nd International Maritime Security Conference in Kyiv on Thursday.

“As commander of the Navy, I ask and express my confidence that the international community will accept and acknowledge that there was an act of aggression against the state of Ukraine. In this regard and according to the Montreux Convention [Regarding the Regime of the Straits], namely [Article] 19, we will ask for the closure of the Bosphorus Strait by the Turkish Republic [to Russian vessels] so that Russians know how to violate international law,” Voronchenko said.

He added that Russia is trying to establish and spread its dominance in the Baltic Sea, in the Arctic, in the Middle and Far East.

“Gaining control over Ukraine is critically important to Russia, since the full realization of those democratic and Euro-Atlantic transformations will lead to the collapse of imperial ambitions and the authoritarian state machine of the Russian Federation,” Voronchenko said.

According to him, the actions of Russian servicemen in the Sea of Azov include signs of offenses stipulated by the Criminal Code of Ukraine, and they must be held to account for that.

The 2nd International Maritime Security Conference is a joint event of the Ukrainian Navy command and the International Center for Security and Defense Strategies. The conference is aimed at supporting the formation of appropriate naval capabilities in Ukraine, coordination of efforts and the achievement of operational naval interoperability with NATO.

The event is attended by politicians, diplomats, military, international experts and journalists from both sides of the Atlantic. The conference participants discuss current security challenges in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov and ways of responding adequately to them, socio-political and economic implications of changes in the security environment, as well as NATO policies in the region. The strategy for the development of the Ukrainian Navy was also presented.

Russia responded:

A Russian politician has hit back after the commander of the Ukrainian Navy, Vice Admiral Ihor Voronchenko, called on Turkey to block Russian ships from crossing the Bosphorus Strait, which separates the Black Sea from the Sea of Marmara

On Thursday Voronchenko said his country would ask for Russian ships to be banned from using the Bosphorus Strait as tensions continue to simmer days after Russian military forces fired on and then seized three Ukrainian navy vessels. Moscow also apprehended sailors on the vessels, several of whom were wounded in the incident on Sunday.

“Legally speaking, Kiev’s intention to close down the Bosporus for Russian ships is useless,” the Russian federal parliament’s Committee on Defense and Security First Deputy Chairman, Franz Klintsevich, told reporters on Thursday.

The Russian government says the Ukrainian vessels had illegally entered its maritime territories and were dealt with lawfully. Kiev, however, says the ships – two gunboats and a tug – had been headed off as they tried to enter the Kerch Strait, which connects the Azov Sea to the Black Sea, and were attacked as they turned back toward Ukraine after a long standoff.

The 23 soldiers captured during the incident had still not been returned by Thursday, a fact that apparently prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to cancel a meeting with Putin scheduled during the two-day G20 summit in Argentina, which starts on Friday.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that he had proposed his own country as a mediator between Ukraine and Russia.

While the Kerch Strait incident was the first sign of open conflict between the countries, Ukrainian forces have been fighting Russian-backed groups in the east Ukrainian Donbass region since shorlty after the Ukrainian revolution in February 2014.

Moscow annexed the Crimean Peninsula in March that year, granting it control of the Kerch Strait, the only maritime route leading to the Sea of Azov, where Russia and Ukraine both have coastlines.

Kiev is reportedly concerned that the incident could lead to a full-scale invasion by Russia, and has appealed to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to send ships to the Black Sea. Voronchenko also declared on Thursday his country’s intention to call on Turkey to revoke Russian access to the Bosphorus.

The Ukrainian admiral invoked the 1936 Montreux Convention, which acknowledges Turkey’s control of the straits and regulates naval transit in the area, saying the Russian vessels could be barred entry based on paragraph 19 of the convention. This allows Turkey to block vessels at times of war or when they pose a direct security threat.

However, Klintsevich said, the paragraph has “nothing to do” with the Kerch strait crisis.

“”Russia is not at war with anyone and is not going to wage one,” he said. “By strongly reacting to the illegitimate attempts of the Ukrainian naval vessels to pass through our territorial waters, the Russian border guards acted strictly in line with international law.”


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