Ukrainian warships can pass through the Kerch Strait into the Sea of Azov without any problems, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in an interview to the TV network “Zvezda”, reported RIA Novosti.
“As we have said many times, the fact is that Ukrainian warships can pass from the Black Sea to its ports in the Sea of Azov without any problems. The only condition is that the safety standards for traversing the Kerch Strait must be observed,” he 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”.