Ukraine demands the immediate release of vessels
The President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, demands that Russia immediately release the three Ukrainian naval vessels arrested in the Kerch Strait. Strong reactions from NATO and EU.
The three navy vessels and their crews were arrested by the Russian security service (FSB) on Sunday. This after completing what the Russian Coast Guard claimed was an «unauthorized passage» through Russian waters.
Shots were allegedly fired by the Russians, injuring two Ukrainians.
On Monday, President Poroshenko was in contact with Ukraine’s National Security Council, claiming that the arrest of the naval vessels is in violation of international law.
Poroshenko demands that Russian authorities immediately transfer the navy vessels and crews back to Ukraine, and he also demands that Russia ensure a de-escalation of the tense situation in the Azov Sea.
Russia, on its part, accuses the Ukrainian authorities of acting dangerously. The Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov, believes Ukraine «violated international norms with dangerous methods that led to threats and risks» for normal movement of ships in the area, calling the event a clear provocation. He also accuses the EU of blind support to Ukraine.
The UN Security Council has called for a crisis meeting on Monday afternoon CET as a result of the conflict.
Stoltenberg calls for a crisis meeting in the Ukraine Commission
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg calls for a crisis meeting in the NATO-Ukraine Commission to discuss the tense situation in the Azov Sea.
Stoltenberg spoke on Monday with the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, on the phone about the dramatic developments in the Azos Sea and the Kerch Strait.
The Secretary-General expressed its full support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and independence, which also includes the country’s right to navigate freely in its territorial waters under international law.
It was Poroshenko that asked the NATO boss to call the Ukraine-NATO Commission, which initially meets at the ambassador level in Brussels Monday afternoon.
Norwegian authorities concerned about the conflict in the Kersh Strait
The Norwegian authorities express concern about the escalating conflict between Ukraine and Russia while encouraging dialogue between the two countries.
– We are worried about the tension in the area and for the Ukrainian crew on board, Minister Erna Solberg (Conservatives) tells Radio Norge.
Solberg emphasises that Russia must comply with the agreements they have signed.
– I hope the UN can get Ukraine and Russia to talk together, to reopen Ukraine’s access to the Azov Sea, for which they have an agreement, and to calm the situation down, she continues.
Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ine Eriksen Søreide (Conservatives) believes Russia’s use of force is unacceptable and that the Norwegian Government is following the developments closely.
– Russian abuse of power against Ukrainian vessels is unacceptable, and we urge Russia to release the vessels with their crews immediately. Vessels must be secured free passage to Ukrainian ports in the Azos Sea, Eriksen Søreide states. She repeats Norway’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
– From the Norwegian side, we have been concerned with developments in the Azos Sea, following the opening of the Russian bridge over the Kerch Strait. Norway has implemented restrictive measures related to the bridge, in line with EU, she continues.
Norwegian Minister of Defence, Frank Bakke-Jensen (Conservatives) believes Russia is conducting a hybrid warfare. It is a form of warfare that uses both conventional and unconventional means, propaganda and cyber attacks, use of local militia groups and soldiers in unmarked uniforms, as well as the use of political and economic impact and destabilization.
– It is extremely clear how power is employed to build strength and position while ensuring that it is below the limits of regular warfare, Bakke-Jensen explains to VG.
Bakke-Jensen adds that he is worried that Norway can also end up in similar situations.
Condemnation from the European Union
EU President Donald Tusk went out on Monday with hard criticism of Russia and condemned Russian aggression against Ukraine.
The UN Security Council has called for a crisis meeting on Monday afternoon Norwegian time as a result of the conflict. Both Ukraine and Russia have requested the meeting, reports sources to the AFP news agency.
Monday afternoon, Stoltenberg brings together the NATO Council and ambassadors from all NATO countries, as well as Ukraine, for a crisis meeting to discuss the troubled situation.
© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today