Ukraine is planning a new passage of ships through the Kerch Strait and it is taking certain measures and getting ready for the passage together with international partners. The Ukrainian Navy will likely be able to “surprise Russia”, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said in an interview with Censor.net.
According to the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, the presence of foreign observers onboard the ships is hardly possible but there will be international monitoring. In particular, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry is holding negotiations with Germany and France on the presence of a monitoring mission [in the Kerch Strait].
“We are now working on the possibilities of monitoring from the sea, from the air, and, probably, from space,” Klimkin said.
According to Klimkin, the presence of the naval forces of “our friends” in the Black sea is the second important factor for the successful passage in the Sea of Azov. “We are thinking of buying or leasing warships, conducting joint work of crews,” the diplomat said.
On 25 November last year, Russia attacked and captured the Ukrainian military boats Berdyansk and Nikopol and the tugboat Yany Kapu in neutral waters. All 24 Ukrainians on board were accused of violating the Russian state border, arrested, and transferred from Kerch to Moscow. Ukraine considered this an act of military aggression, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe recognized the captured sailors as prisoners of war.
US President Donald Trump canceled his planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin because of the Kerch Strait incident. US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker similarly called off his scheduled negotiation session with Russian Presidential Aide Vladislav Surkov.
Oleksandr Turchynov, Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said in December that Ukraine had invited its international partners to take part in a passage of naval ships from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov through the Kerch Strait. The Russian media warned that this could “aggravate the situation”.