Black Sea Standoff Intensifies Tensions Between Russia, Ukraine by Amie Ferris-Rotman and David Stern – Washington Post
Russia and Ukraine accused each other of provoking an incident at sea on Sunday, rapidly escalating tensions between the neighbors and spurring Moscow to close a vital water route the two nations use.
On Sunday morning, Russia prevented three Ukrainian ships from entering the Kerch Strait, a narrow strip of water linking the Azov and Black seas. According to the Ukrainian navy, vessels belonging to Russia’s border service opened fire on the Ukrainian fleet, injuring six sailors, before seizing two of the ships.
Moscow had prevented the ships from entering the Kerch Strait by placing a large cargo vessel beneath a Russian-controlled bridge. Russia then closed the strait.
Russia says the Ukrainian navy illegally entered its waters. The two artillery boats and a tugboat “unlawfully entered a temporarily closed area of Russia’s territorial sea at about 7 am Moscow time,” Russia’s border service told the Interfax news agency. “It is clear that their goal is to create a conflict situation in the region.”
Ukraine disputes this. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Russia acted “aggressively” and “illegally used force against the ships of the Ukrainian Navy.” A Russian ship rammed into the tugboat, damaging it, the Ukrainian navy added.
A bilateral treaty grants both countries the right to use the Azov Sea…