Three warships of the Ukrainian Navy [the small armoured gunboats Nikopol and Berdyansk as well as the estuary tug Yani Kapu] have illegally crossed Russia’s state border entering its territorial waters and are carrying out dangerous maneuvers, the Federal Security Service’s Border Service in Crimea said on November 25.
“This morning at around 7:00 a.m. Moscow Time three ships of Ukraine’s Navy violated Articles 19 and 21 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which define the right of a coastal state to ensure maritime security, crossed the Russian state border and illegally entered the temporarily closed waters of the Russian territorial sea,” the agency said in a statement.
According to reports, the warships continue heading to the Kerch Strait, where the traffic is regulated under a schedule approved by the captain of the Russian sea port.
“Until now the requests have not been sent in due order, the vessels have not been included in the schedule of passage. The vessels are carrying out dangerous maneuvers and are disobeying the Russian authorities’ demands,” the Federal Security Service’s Border Department in Crimea said.
It added that the Border Service is taking all steps to ensure security of navigation and regulation of maritime traffic in the waters of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait.
Russia’s Sobol-class patrol boats, the coast guard ship Don , Mangust-class patrol boats, and the corvette Suzdalets are now working to prevent the illegal actions of the Ukrainian warships.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian side claimed that the estuary tug Yani Kapu collided with Russia’s Sorum-class seagoing tug Don. No casualties as a result of the incident were reported. However, the estuary tug Yani Kapu’s engine was damaged.
Kiev says that the small armoured gunboats Nikopol and Berdyansk as well as the estuary tug Yani Kapu are moving from the Ukrainian port of Odessa [the Black Sea] to the port of Mariupol [the Sea of Azov].
“Notification about the transfer plans was done in advance in accordance with international rules to ensure safe navigation,” the Ukrainian Navy said on Facebook commenting on the situation.
The November 25 incident will likely contribute to further tensions between Russia and Ukraine over the situation in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. The Poroshenko regime continues to undertake actions to destabilize the situation in the region. Such an escalation will allow Kiev to request more support from Western states. Furthermore, Petro Poroshenko likely believes that the escalation increases his chances in the upcoming presidential election in 2018.