Monday , May 27 2019

Ukraine says Russia partially unblocked its Azov Sea ports


Ukraine said Russia had partially restored access to its ports on the Azov Sea following months of disruption and a week after its navy was fired on by its neighbour.
As of Monday, ships were allowed to move in both directions through the Kerch Strait separating the Azov and Black Seas, according to Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan. Russia is still stopping vessels to inspect them, he said.
Tensions in the area had been building since Russia completed construction of a bridge connecting its mainland to the peninsula of Crimea, which President Vladimir Putin annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Ukraine says Russia has purposely held up its ships to choke its Azov Sea ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk, from which metals and agricultural goods are exported.
The situation came to a head late last month when Russia fired at, damaged and subsequently seized three Ukrainian navy vessels, along with 24 crew members who now face charges of illegal border crossing.
Ukraine’s Western allies have condemned Russia’s actions, though there’s no sign yet of additional sanctions.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that there were “no restrictions” on vessels traveling through the Kerch Strait.

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