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Russia threatens to "shut down" Azov Sea, Ukraine to react vigorously

Earlier, Russia's officials stated that Azov Sea might be shut down for the Ukrainian vessels
15:52, 16 November 2018

Open source

Iryna Lutsenko, the President’s Representative to the Verkhovna Rada, Ukrainian people's deputy, stated that if Russia blocks Azov Sea, Ukraine’s reaction will be vigorous, as she said at the briefing in Kyiv, Ukrinform reported.

“Ukraine’s reaction will be vigorous, we have a few lawsuits on Russia’s violation of the International Convention of the Law of the Sea. Azov Sea is an inland sea, so the fact that no agreement on the mutual use was signed means that we have to apply to this international convention… Besides, the lawsuits, of Ukraine’s Security Service and border guards will also respond to this,” she noted.

Related: Freedom of navigation at stake in Sea of Azov: security consequences for Ukraine and wider Black Sea region

She stated that if the Sea of Azov is blocked, criminal proceedings against Russian officials will be opened.

In addition, the President’s Representative said that Russia’s provocations in the area means that Putin does not intend to stop, he wants to activate, especially during the pre-election period.

“Ukraine’s South hinges on the usage of Azov Sea. Putin’s activation means only that he wants to create an unstable atmosphere in Ukraine in 2019,” Lutsenko said.

Related: Why is the Sea of Azov so important?

Previously, Ukraine arrested 15 ships that entered ports of the annexed Crimea. This is due to the Ukrainian law that claims the ports of Crimea (Yevpatoria, Kerch, Sevastopol, Feodosiya, Yalta) closed. The respective legislative acts were approved in April and June 2014.

Thus, any vessel that enters the closed seaports and terminals in the occupied Crimea breach the Ukrainian and the international law. Such action is considered an undermining of Ukraine's sovereignty and results in responsibility for the vessel's owner, operator and the crew.
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