Ukrainian Parliament calls for withdrawal from Azov Sea treaty with Russia

Ukrainian deputies introduced a bill to the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliamnent) that would cancel the treaty between Russia and Ukraine on the joint use of the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait. The corresponding message is posted on the website of the Verkhovna Rada. The draft resolution is addressed to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak.

The bill was registered on July 10 by members of the Samopomich (Self Reliance) party.  However, the document has not yet been posted on the Ukrainian parliament’s website. Semen Semenchenko, one of the draft authors said during the Verkhovna Rada meeting, "The draft law resolution requires from the Ukrainian president to immediately introduce to the Verkhovna Rada a bill denouncing the treaty between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on cooperation and use of the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait."

Interfax-Ukraine points out that the bill implies recognition of a Russian Kerch Strait bridge as “a flagrant violation of international maritime law and violation of the exclusive economic zone of Ukraine.”

The deputies have also suggested terminating a cooperation agreement due to “the systematic violations of the freedom of navigation, as well as the detention and obstruction of ship calls to the Ukrainian Azov Sea ports by the Federal Security Service of Russia.” In the document, actions of the Russian Federal Security Service were also described as aggressive.

On July 10, the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine promised to submit to the Russian Foreign Ministry "a protest letter regarding inspections by the Russian Special Forces units of Ukrainian ships calling on the ports of Ukraine through the Kerch Strait." The ministry emphasized that 93 ships were detained by Russians for inspections since April 23. All of them were going to Ukrainian ports in the Azov Sea.

"The Russian Federation authorities haven’t explained the reasons for inspecting the vessels, thereby creating tension in the region and interfering with peaceful navigation in the northeastern part of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov," said the Deputy Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine Yuriy Lavrenyuk.

UNIAN news agency reported, citing the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine that Ukraine is the hostage of the current situation. According to the border guards, the main cause of problem is the agreement on cooperation between Kyiv and Moscow. It defines the Azov Sea as a sea of internal use of the two countries and recognized it as historical inland waters of Ukraine and Russia. In addition, both Russian and Ukrainian border guards can inspect any vessels that may be suspicious.

  Ukraine, Verkhovna Rada, Russia, Azov Sea