December 4, 2018

What is behind Russia's provocation in the Azov Sea?

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine approved the Decree of the President of Ukraine on the introduction of martial law because of the capturing of three Ukrainian ships in neutral waters.

Chronology of events:

  • On the morning of November 25, two small armored artillery boats “Berdyansk” and “Nikopol” and a tugboat “Yany Kapu” of the Navy of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, contrary to international agreements, were attacked by the Russian border guard ships. In particular, the Russian ship rammed several times the Ukrainian tugboat. At the same time, the Russian forces blocked navigation in the Kerch Strait.
  • The Ukrainian ships decided to return to the Ukrainian port of Odessa, from which they came. The Russian forces (consisting of warships and aviation) began chasing, and after leaving the 12-mile zone, they opened fire on the Ukrainian ships. As a result of these actions, the small boat “Berdyansk” was damaged. According to the latest data, as a result of these actions, 6 Ukrainian sailors were injured.
  • Later, the “Berdyansk”, “Nikopol” and “Yany Kapu” were captured by the Russian Special Task Forces.
  • The FSB of Russia said that Ukrainian ships violated the border and to the Russians' “legal demand” to immediately stop, “they did not react, carrying out dangerous maneuvers”.
  • Regarding the incident, the President of Ukraine convened a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, which raised the question of the introduction of a martial law. The President of Ukraine signed the relevant decree, and the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine approved it.

Russia's actions are outright hostile and contradict the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the agreement between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on cooperation in the use of the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait. The attack on Ukrainian ships is Russia's open act of aggression against Ukraine.

In assessing events and their analysis, one should take into consideration the fact that today Russia is led by representatives of special services, whose specific style was to set task to achieve several goals at the same time during the planning and implementation of certain special operations.

In view of this, Russia's actions can be dictated by:

  • the desire to block Ukrainian ports in the Azov Sea: Berdyansk and Mariupol, which will significantly limit exports from the eastern regions of Ukraine and lead to economic suppression of this region;
  • an attempt to concentrate on itself key transport flows in the region and to ensure the security of transport and energy corridors between Russia and Southern Europe;
  • the desire to prepare conditions for an offensive on the Azov direction and creation of a land corridor to the occupied Crimea;
  • Moscow's attempt to raise rates on the eve of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church's receiving Tomos on autocephaly;
  • the desire to once again test the reaction of the world community (first of all, of the United States and the EU) to the escalation of the Russian-Ukrainian military conflict, especially on the eve of the G20 summit in Argentina.