Mariupol – The conflict between Russia and Ukraine for control over eastern Ukraine has now reached the Sea of Azov. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced that Ukraine would be building a new naval base in the Azov region which would be functional by the end of the year. In retaliation, Russia initiated construction of a bridge in the disputed area and began denying entry to Ukrainian ships into the Sea of Azov. Referring to the developments in this region, the Ukrainian President has levelled the allegation about Russia’s attempt to take control of the Sea of Azov.
As per the agreement signed between Russia and Ukraine a decade ago, ships from both the countries were to have free access to the Sea of Azov. However, since the last few months, the tensions in the Azov Sea region have been increasing, and the Poroshenko government has alleged that Russia is trying to take control over the Sea of Azov. The freedom of movement of the Ukrainian ships is threatened due to the Russian-imposed blockade in the Kerch Strait.
The United States and the European Union (EU) have objected to Russia’s stance. A few days ago, the US Department of State had alleged that Russia was trying to ‘undermine and destabilise Ukraine’ by hindering its commercial vessel movement. The United States had also demanded, “We call upon Russia to cease its harassment of international shipping in the Sea of Azov. The European Union had criticised the blockade saying, ‘it deliberately hinders and delays the passage of vessels, including those from the EU member states’. Even so, Russia is firm on its decision about the blockade in the Azov Sea.
After acquiring control over Crimea in the conflict with Ukraine five years ago, Russia started construction of a bridge over the Kerch Strait to connect Crimea to Russia. Nevertheless, there was a bitter opposition to its construction from Ukraine, who has been asserting that Crimea is an integral part of Ukraine and that Russia has seized it. The western countries had objected to the Russian construction as well. However, Russia continued with the development, despite all the objections.