The foreign ministers of the countries comprising the Visegrad Four – the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary, have expressed their support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine by condemning the situation surrounding the Kerch crisis, Radio Liberty reports.
According to the Slovak Foreign Ministry, during the discussion of the problem, “the strong support of all four ministers of the four countries was voiced for the territorial integrity of Ukraine in the dispute with Russia, in the spirit of the jointly made statements of the EU and NATO”.
At the Visegrad Four meeting, which was held in Bratislava, the foreign ministers of Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic – Jacek Czaputowicz, Miroslav Lajcak, Peter Szijjarto and Tomas Petricek respectively – also discussed matters pertaining to preparation for the upcoming summit of the Visegrad Four and the Eastern Partnership. The summit is scheduled to be held in spring next year, on the 10-year anniversary of the Eastern Partnership program, with the aim of activating and reinforcing the collaboration between the countries in the partnership.
The Ukrainian Navy reported that on November 25, Russian border guard boats carried out “blatantly aggressive actions” against Ukrainian vessels in the Kerch Strait. The Russian boat the Don even rammed into the Ukrainian tugboat Yany Kapu.
The Russian FSB office for Crimea asserts that the three Ukrainian military boats “crossed the Russian state border illegally” and carried out “dangerous maneuvers” en route to the Kerch Strait.
News came out later that the FSB had used weapons against the Ukrainian boats in Black Sea waters. Kyiv reports that six Ukrainian sailors were wounded due to shots from the FSB. The FSB confirmed that it had fired at the Ukrainian ships, and said that three Ukrainians had been wounded.
Russia’s actions have been criticized by the US and a number of European countries. NATO said that it is closely monitoring the developments in the Kerch Strait, and called for restraint and de-escalation.
The Eastern Partnership is intended to improve cooperation between the EU and its neighbors, including Ukraine. It was founded at a session of the EU in Prague in May 2009.