U.S. President Donald Trump embargoed a White House statement on the Kerch Strait incident of November 25, 2018, where Russian forces overtly attacked Ukrainian navy vessels and subsequently detained the crew and seized the boats, that's according to Christopher Anderson, ex-deputy of Kurt Volker, the former U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine negotiations.
In his impeachment inquiry testimony, published by NPR, Christopher Anderson confirmed Russia's act "was an overt escalation".
"And also, we believed this happened in international waters," he said, adding that in the U.S. Government's view, the Kerch Strait is a shared strait.
Anderson testified that his colleagues quickly drafted a statement condemning escalation by Russia. That statement, he said, found support from both Ambassador Volker and across the State Department.
Asked to provide details on the U.S. president's embargo, Anderson said: "It was a very complicated situation. It wasn't clear exactly where the ships were in international waters. There was some allegation – the Russian side was arguing that it was a provocation from the Ukrainians and that Poroshenko had done this on purpose to try and force Western support."
"[W]e also wanted to make sure the Europeans took the lead on responding to this escalation, because this was a European – this happened in Europe," Anderson added, referring to former national security adviser John Bolton.
He added that, while no statement ever followed from the White House, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued one following the attack. "Ambassador [to UN Nikki] Haley did eventually pretty quickly issue a statement as well."