U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spoke at the UN Security Council Monday, reminding members of Russia’s aggressive actions against Ukraine in the Black Sea, the Kerch Strait, and the Sea of Azov.
The statement came during a UNSC meeting on maintenance of international maritime security, an Ukrinform correspondent in New York reports.
“In the Black Sea, the Kerch Strait, the Sea of Azov, we see continued aggressive actions against Ukraine with dangerous incursions on the sea and in the air and the harassment of vessels, which are disrupting commerce and energy access,” said Blinken.
The state secretary reaffirmed U.S. support for or Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters.
“Crimea is Ukraine,” Blinken stressed.
As reported, on November 25, 2018, Russian security forces attacked and seized three Ukrainian Navy vessels off the coast of Russia-occupied Crimea as they were set to cross the Kerch Strait, sailing from the Black Sea port of Odesa to Mariupol in the Sea of Azov. Twenty-four Ukrainian crewmen were captured, including three – wounded.
Only in September 2019 were the crews, held in Russia for “illegal border crossing,” released as part of a wider prisoner exchange effort. The seized boats were returned a while later.
Also, Ukraine maintains that the Kerch Strait Bridge connecting the occupied Crimea to mainland Russia was built in violation of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Russia never obtained consent from Ukraine – a coastal state – for such construction, according to Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine Emine Dzheppar.
Along with a number of environmental issues Ukraine has brought up as regards the Kerch Strait Bridge, the issue of Russia hindering navigation to and from Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov has grown acute.