Russia Closes Kerch Strait for All Commercial Vessels Following Incident with Ukrainian Navy

The Kerch Strait, which connects the Black and Azov Seas, was closed for the passage of civilian ships because of the incident with the Ukrainian Navy ships, RIA Novosti reported referring to the general director of the Crimean Sea Ports company Alexey Volkov.

According to him, this decision was made for security purposes.

According to the Ukrainian Navy statement, Russian Coast Guard ships has rammed an Ukrainian Navy tugboat, named Yana Kapu, during a confrontation in the Sea of Azov off the Crimean Peninsula.

FSB’s Crimean border department accused the Ukrainian Navy vessels for entering the waters illegally and deliberately provoking a conflict.

The Sea of Azov has been an area of heightened tensions between Moscow and Kiev since Russia seized Ukraine’s Crimea region in March 2014. Russia has control over access to the Sea of Azov as it controls the Kerch Strait, and Kyiv accuses Moscow of harassing ships heading for Ukrainian ports, such as Mariupol. Both sides have recently increased their military presence in the Azov region.

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