February 17, 2019
n November 23, 2018 the Ukrainian Navy boat group (small armored artillery boats “Nikopol”, “Berdyansk” and inshore tugboat “Yani Kapu”) started planned transit from the naval deployment – port of Odessa to the port of Mariupol. Ukrainian Navy boats were carrying regular armament without any specific means on board. The route and procedure were the same as of September, 2018 “Donetsk” and “Korets” vessels’ transit. On November 24, 2018 during the naval march Ukrainian commander received Russian authorities’ notice concerning the closing of navigation in the Kerch Strait. International Centre for Navigation Control (Spain) did not confirm this notification. On November 25, 2018 the commander of the Ukrainian Navy boat group requested twice the maritime control officer from Kerch port concerning passage through Kerch Strait. He did not receive the answer. Later the maritime control officer from Kerch port directed the Ukrainian Navy boat group to the so-called waiting area. It was stated that in some time Ukrainian vessels would be informed on the Kerch Strait passage procedure. Approximately at 8:30-9:00 a.m. Russian coastguard ship made a ram attack against inshore tugboat “Yani Kapu” and damaged it. Besides, Russian vessels blocked Ukrainian boat group to prevent them to render assistance to a damaged vessel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fpFNSUC9p4 All the time during a provocation against Ukrainian Navy boats, Russian vessels were attempting to provoke Ukrainian seamen to open fire. Moreover, by 01:00-02:00 p.m. Russia used helicopters to patrol and convoy Ukrainian vessels. From 1:40 p.m. Russia has physically blocked the passage beneath so-called “Kerch bridge” having located there a tanker and later a cargo ship. After 7 p.m. due to the impossibility to pass the Strait, Ukrainian Navy ships headed back to exit a Kerch Strait. They were immediately followed by a group of 8-10 FSB Coast Guard and Russian Black Sea fleet vessels. Approximately at 20:25 after the exit of Ukraine’s Navy boat group from 12 mile zone Russia’s Cost Guard boats opened fire on defeat. “Berdyansk” and “Nikopol” were damaged and lost the course. After that Ukrainian vessels were forced to stop and seized by FSB special forces (20:35-20:50). 6 Ukrainian military seamen are wounded. Also 1 boat of FSB Coast Guard damaged. Ukraine has proven evidence that Russian aggressive actions were planned and authorized by the top Russian military officials. In particular, the Russian military videos in YouTube testifies that a ram of the Ukrainian tugboat “Yanni Kapu” was purposeful, and actions of the captain of the Russian patrol ship were oriented to inflicting harm to the Ukrainian vessel and crew. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpdlGAweVu4 Aggressive actions of the Russian military authorities correspond in full with the definition of aggression set forth in the UN General Assembly Resolution 3314 (XXIX). Now Russia cynically tries to shift all responsibility to the victim of the aggression, consciously manipulating the facts and ignoring all evidence.
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