In a statement released by the Federation Council, Moscow threatened to take military action against Kyiv for violating procedures for the passage of Ukrainian Navy ships through the Kerch Strait, reports TASS.
Russia believes that the passage of ships through the Kerch Strait is not a question of NATO’s presence in the Black Sea, but of Ukraine’s fulfillment of its obligations “which are well established and have been successfully implemented since November 2018,” that is, before the Russian capture of Ukrainian sailors.
“Ukraine’s attempts to bypass these procedures carry the risk of a military conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation in which NATO may also be involved,” the Federation Council’s statement reads.
The Federation Council claimed that NATO’s support to Ukraine, and in 2008 its support to Georgia, “encouraged the administrations of these two countries, which are sure of their impunity, to seek new adventures”.
However, Russian senators do not exclude the possibility that negotiations between the Kremlin and the North Atlantic Alliance could improve a worsening situation.
“One can only regret that the previously existing formats and channels of communication were curtailed unilaterally by NATO. Cooperation in a number of security areas that would safeguard the interests of all Euro-Atlantic states was completely discontinued,” the Federation Council complained.
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”.