Russia's recent actions in the Sea of Azov indicate possible preparations for possible landing operations along Ukraine's coastline in the Sea of Azov and Odesa coast in the Black Sea, according to Oleksandr Khara, deputy chair of the board of the Black Sea Institute of Strategic Studies.
Russia's actions in the Sea of Azov with the blocking of Ukrainian vessels show that the war is now also being waged on the sea, Khara wrote in a blog for Obozrevatel.
"According to Ukraine's law on defense, in line with the definition of aggression by the UN General Assembly, blocking ports is already an act of aggression, and, in fact, what's happening in the Sea of Azov is a creeping aggression," the foreign policy and security expert wrote.
According to Khara, Russia controls the annexed Crimea and the Kerch Strait, and it is the easiest way to cut Ukraine off the seas precisely in the Azov. In addition, Ukraine has practically lost its Navy.
"This is preparation for possible aggression in the form of landing on the coasts of Azov and Odesa ... If Ukraine is cut off from sea, then this will be an irreparable blow to our economy," the expert pointed out, reminding that Mariupol and Berdyansk are both major ports that depend on sea exports.
Khara stressed that Ukraine in response to Russian provocations should act in three directions at once: diplomatic, legal, and military. Thus, the Foreign Ministry should demand that the UN Security Council be convened and that protest notes be released, while it is necessary to collect evidence of violations of the Russian Federation in the Sea of Azov to assist shipowners who suffer losses, and to use in lawsuits.
The expert goes on to criticize the Ukrainian diplomacy for inaction, at the same time praising the military command for announcing plans to deploy additional vessels in the area to counter Russian threats.
In addition, Khara noted that Ukraine should withdraw from the Agreement on Cooperation in the use of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait, in which both are recognized as inland waters. It is this document that Russia exploits to justify its provocative actions, according to the expert.