Russia Is Blocking 'Hundreds' of Ships From Ukraine's Ports and the US Wants it to Stop
The United States has accused Russia of âharassmentâ in foreign waters by barring or delaying âhundreds of commercial vesselsâ from reaching ports in neighboring Ukraine.
The Department of State called on Moscow to restore international shipping firmsâ regular access to Ukraineâs Sea of Azov coastline, as the Kremlin now exercises control over both sides of the strait that flows in and out of it. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and unveiled a drawbridge in the spring, spanning from the western to the eastern part of the strait, sealing the seaâs only major link with the world ocean.
âRussiaâs actions to impede maritime transit are further examples of its ongoing campaign to undermine and destabilize Ukraine, as well as its disregard for international norms,â the department wrote in a statement. The U.S. accused Russia of begin ning to disrupt maritime travel to Ukraine in April, adding that âin recent weeks has stopped at least 16 commercial ships attempting to reach Ukrainian ports.â
âThe United States supports Ukraineâs sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters,â the department said. âWe call on Russia to cease its harassment of international shipping in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait.â
Ukraine has already filed a lawsuit against Russiaâs bridge to Crimea, arguing last year that the 12-mile road and railway link between the peninsula and Russiaâs Krasnodar region endangers its own ports in Mariupol and Berdyansk. Following the State Departmentâs statement, Ukraineâs Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused Russia of âstealing Ukraineâs energy and fisheries resources, harming the livelihoods of Ukrainian fishermen, and blocking traffic to Ukrainian ports with its illegal bridge over the Ker ch Strait, among other serious violations.âRecommended Slideshows76The Most Powerful Military Forces in the World59The 25 Most Powerful Passports in the World61Every World Press Photo Winner Ever: 60 Images That Define Our World
Russian President Vladimir Putin (C), accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak (L) and head of the Federal Road Agency Roman Starovoit, points at the map while inspecting the site of the under-construction bridge across the Kerch strait, which will link Russia and the Crimean peninsula, onboard a helicopter, on March 18, 2016.
âUkraine believes that Russia must and will be held accountable for its serious breaches of the international law of the sea,â the statement from Kiev read.
Kiev and a majority of countries at the United Nations have refused to recognize Russiaâs control of Crimea as legitimate, casting aspersions over Moscowâs right to build a bridge to its coast at all. However the perimeters of the bridge are what the Ukrainian government has objected to as well, suggesting they could be deliberately damaging to Ukrainian business in Mariupol and Berdyansk.
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âThe vessels that go there have a minimum draft of 9.6 meters (31 feet) and maximum 14 meters (46 feet). These are large, Panamax-type ships,â Ukraineâs Minister for Tran sport, Yury Lavrenyuk told Deutsche Welle in June. âDespite this Russia stipulates a maximum draft of eight meters.â
Russia went on the offensive in response to the latest comments, as the Russian Embassy in Washington, defending ongoing delays at the strait as âlegitimate inspections of vessels at the Sea of Azov.â
âU.S. authorities keep generating new baseless accusations against Russia to misdirect attention from gross human rights violations in its satellite countries...not to mention in the U.S. itself,â the embassy wrote in a Facebook post.Source: Google News Ukraine | Netizen 24 Ukraine