NATO Maritime Command

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to the proposal of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to allow access of experts from Germany and France to the Kerch Strait area.

"I can only say one thing. Over a month ago, Chancellor Merkel asked President Putin to allow German specialists to come to the Kerch Strait area and see how the passage through this water area is being carried out, given that safety standards must be observed – whether the pilotage is present, etc. – and President Putin immediately agreed," Lavrov said at a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in Moscow on Friday, an UNIAN correspondent in Russia reports.

Read alsoRussia continues creeping offensive not only in Azov, but also in Black Sea – Poltorak

Lavrov noted, "after a while, Chancellor Merkel asked him to allow German specialists to come along with the French ones, and he also agreed to that."

According to Lavrov, over a month has passed, but "we're not seeing any visits."

The Russian Foreign Minister added that today, Maas handed him over a proposal "that 'packs' this simple trip into a certain document that must be agreed with Ukraine."

"We honestly said that, if our counterparts are interested in what President Putin promised to Chancellor Merkel, this can be done today, tomorrow, or any time. If the idea is to put all this into some kind of political procedure, where the Ukrainian side is to make some decisions, we risk finding ourselves in the same situation as we have in the 'Normandy format' with the 'Steinmeier formula'," Lavrov added.