Ukraine Urges NATO to Deploy Ships to Sea of Azov Amid Standoff with Russia

The Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko, has urged NATO to deploy naval ships to the Sea of Azov amid a standoff with Russia, Reuters reported.

The President made the call in an interview with the German daily Bild published Thursday, saying that “Germany is one of our closest allies and we hope that states within NATO are now ready to relocate naval ships to the Sea of Azov in order to assist Ukraine and provide security.”

According to the Reuters report, there was no immediate reaction from German or NATO officials to Poroshenko’s request. While NATO condemned the Russian action, the allies will be unlikely to heed Poroshenko’s request, which could trigger a confrontation with Russia. A 2003 treaty between Russia and Ukraine stipulates that agreement from both countries is required for warships from any other country to enter the internal sea.

In Sunday’s confrontation, the Russian Coast Guard fired on and seized three Ukrainian vessels – two small armored artillery boats and a tugboat – and their crews that sought to pass from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov through the Kerch Strait, between Russia’s mainland and the Crimean Peninsula.

Ukraine insisted that its vessels were operating in international waters in line with international maritime rules when they were fired upon, while Russia said they were in its territorial waters and had failed to get permission to pass.

The incident marked the first overt collision between Russian and Ukrainian militaries since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

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