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Ukraine's Armed Forces General Staff Head tells about course of Azov crisis escalation

According to Viktor Muzhenko, the scheduled transfer began on November 24. During the transfer, they received a message which said that the passage zone in Kerch Strait was closing
10:59, 26 November 2018

Viktor Muzhenko, the Head of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine
112 Agency

Viktor Muzhenko, Head of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, told the entire course of events which lead to the escalation of the crisis in the Sea of Azov at the National Security and Defence Council session, broadcasted by 112 Ukraine.

According to him, the scheduled transfer began on November 24. During the transfer, they received a message which said that the passage zone in Kerch Strait was closing.

“The International Centre located in Spain has never confirmed information on the closure of this area. On November 25, at around 4 am, the senior of the passage made two requests to Kerch dispatching office to find out whether it is possible to pass and to clarify the passage schedule in Kerch Bridge area. No information and response received, they continued moving,” he said.

Related: U.S. Congressman urges Trump to hold Putin responsible for Russian aggression in Sea of Azov

Later, the Ukrainian vessels received a message that they had to move to the waiting area, where the order of the passage under the Kerch Bridge would be defined.

“At 11 am, on November 25, we received a message on the closure of the passage zone, the international control center also revealed this data, which did not correspond to reality, as at 1.40-1.50 pm Kyiv time or at 2.40-2.50 pm Moscow time, one ship and two counter-terror boats of the Russian Federation passed under the Kerch Bridge. Though, it was informed that the passage was impossible," he stressed.

Related: UN Security Council to hold urgent session due to Azov crisis

The Russian side opened fire, captured the Ukrainian vessels. Six military men out of 23, who were on the vessels, got injured during confrontations.

As we reported earlier, the coast guard ships of the Russian Navy acted aggressively against the ships of the Ukrainian Navy, which have been carrying out a scheduled transition from Odesa port to Mariupol port in the Sea of Azov. 

‘Today, November 25, the ships of the Ukrainian Navy with two armored gunboats and a sea mule tugboat have been carrying out a scheduled transition from Odesa port to Mariupol port in the Sea of Azov. The intention to make the transition was informed in advance in accordance with international standards in order to ensure the safety of navigation. However, contrary to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Treaty between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on cooperation in the use of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait, the Russian coast guard ships - Sobol class patrol boat, Don border guard cruiser, Mangust class patrol boat and Suzdalets anti-submarine warfare ship performed blatantly aggressive acts against the ships of the Ukrainian Navy,’ reads the message. 

Related: Russian MFA comments on situation in Sea of Azov

It is specified that Don border guard cruiser rammed the Ukrainian armored artillery boat.

The Ukrainian Navy states that "the dispatcher service of the occupiers refuses to ensure the right of freedom of navigation, guaranteed by international agreements." Thus, according to the Ukrainian side, Russia has once again demonstrated its aggressive nature and complete disregard for the norms of international law. 

Related: Russia blocks movement of civil vessels in Sea of Azov, - media

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