During the talks in Minsk, Ukraine called on the OSCE to start monitoring the Sea of Azov, stated Iryna Herashchenko, the representative of Ukraine in the humanitarian subgroup of negotiations in Minsk.
"The Ukrainian side condemned the open armed aggression of the Russian Federation in the Sea of Azov and called on the OSCE SMM, whose mandate covers the entire territory of Ukraine, to immediately begin enhanced monitoring of the Azov Sea and adjacent territories, which according to the Minsk agreements, should be free from heavy weapons and equipment,” Herashchenko wrote on Facebook.
The OSCE mission started work in Ukraine in March 2014, in particular, in the Crimea, where the occupants eventually blocked the entrance of observers, and, later, in the Donbas.
On the morning of November 25, Ukraine informed the Russian port of its intention to transfer three ships through the Kerch Strait, as required by the Agreement on the joint use of the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait. However, at around 8:00 a.m., Russian ships carried out acts of provocation against the Ukrainian vessels, even ramming into the Yany Kapu tugboat.
Russia later accused the Ukrainian ships of illegally entering its territorial waters, claiming that they were “maneuvering dangerously” and “not complying with the legitimate demands of the Russian authorities”. Russia also physically blocked the Kerch Strait with a transport ship. The Ukrainian ships decided to return to Odessa, but they were chased and subsequently attacked by the Russian military. The Berdiansk and Nikopol boats were hit, and two crew members were wounded. All three of the ships were seized by Russia.
On November 28, the Kremlin-controlled court of Simferopol placed the Ukrainian sailors under 2 months of arrest – until January 25, 2019.