The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has expressed its strong protest to the Russian Federation in connection with the armed attack and capture of the Ukrainian navy ships.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine expresses its strong protest to the Russian Federation in connection with the armed attack and capture of the Ukrainian navy ships 'Berdyansk,' 'Nikopol' and the tug boat 'Yana Kapu,' as well as the wounding and capturing of members of their crews," the ministry said in a statement on November 26, 2018.
"The attack on Ukrainian ships that was carried out during a sea crossing from the port of Odessa to the port of Mariupol, in accordance with the provisions of all effective multilateral and bilateral international treaties and navigation rules, is nothing but another act of armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, as defined, in particular, in Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations and the provisions of UN General Assembly Resolution 29/3314 of 14 December 1974 on the definition of aggression. Russia has de facto expanded its military aggression against Ukraine to the sea," reads the statement.
The ministry stresses Ukraine demands to provide urgent medical assistance to the wounded and to ensure their immediate safe return home. Ukraine also demands to return the captured navy ships and to compensate for the damage caused.
"Ukraine urges its allies and partners to take all necessary measures to deter the aggressor, i.a. by applying new and strengthening existing sanctions, as well as by providing Ukraine with military assistance to protect its territorial integrity and sovereignty within the internationally recognized borders," the statement says.
As UNIAN reported earlier, Russian coast guard ships opened fire on a group of vessels of the Ukrainian Navy – two small-sized 'Berdiansk' and 'Nikopol' armored artillery boats and the 'Yany Kapu' tugboat – as they were leaving the Kerch Strait on Sunday evening. Prior to that, on Sunday morning, the 'Yany Kapu' (Yani Qapi) tugboat of Ukraine's Navy was rammed by a Russian coast guard ship while the Ukrainian vessels were carrying out a planned transfer from the port of Odesa to the port of Mariupol in the Sea of Azov.
The Ukrainian side said notification about the transfer plans had been done in advance in accordance with international rules to ensure safe navigation.
Russia, in turn, claims that the Ukrainian vessels "illegally" entered the temporarily closed water area of the territorial sea of the Russian Federation. The FSB alleges that the Ukrainian side did not file an application for passage and its boats were not included in the timetable for navigation through the Kerch Strait.
The Ukrainian Navy's command insists that under Articles 17 and 38 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and Article 2 of the Treaty between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on cooperation in the use of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait, Ukrainian warships enjoy freedom of navigation, and therefore can pass through the Kerch Strait at any time, subject only to navigation safety regulations.
Later, it became known that a Russian special ops unit had seized all the three Ukrainian boats when they were leaving the Kerch Strait. Six members of Ukraine's Navy were reportedly wounded, two of them were in serious condition.