Russia closing off Black Sea areas near occupied Crimea for foreign warships / REUTERS

The Russian Federation is closing off several areas of the Black Sea near occupied Crimea for foreign warships and government ships.

That's according to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti with reference to the Russian Defense Ministry's Directorate for Navigation and Oceanography.

The restriction will operate from 21:00 on April 24 to 21:00 on October 31. Naval exercises will supposedly be held at this time.

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Read alsoU.S. seeing some Russian personnel withdrawing from Ukraine's border – mediaIn particular, a section of the water area along the coast between Sevastopol and Gurzuf, an area off the coast of the Kerch Peninsula on the abeam of the Opuksky nature reserve, as well as a small area near the western tip of Crimea will be closed.

The Russian Defense Ministry argues shipping through the Kerch Strait "will not be affected."

Restricted navigation in Black Sea: What is known

  • On April 15, 2021, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry voiced protest to the Russian Federation over restrictions of navigation in the Black Sea amid the transfer of warships from the Caspian Sea.
  • Ukrainian diplomats urge international partners to step up political and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation to prevent the escalation of the situation in the Azov-Black Sea region. "The Russian Federation announced that it would close from next week to October some part of the Black Sea waters in the direction of the Kerch Strait for warships and state ships of other countries under the pretext of military exercises. Such actions by Russia are another attempt to violate the norms and principles of international law, usurp Ukraine's sovereign rights as a coastal state, since it is Ukraine that is authorized to regulate navigation in that part of the Black Sea," the Ukrainian ministry said in a statement.
  • It also notes the relevant step is a gross violation of the right to freedom of navigation guaranteed by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • The European Union says it is analyzing the situation with Russia's restriction of navigation in the Black Sea near occupied Crimea.
  • The Russian military announced on Thursday, April 22, the start of a combined exercise at the Opuk training ground in occupied Crimea as part of a no-notice check of combat readiness.
  • In particular, the Black Sea Fleet's ships and part of the Caspian Flotilla of the Southern Military District were deployed in the area of the exercise.
  • Russia imposed restrictions on flights over part of Crimea and the Black Sea from April 20 to April 24.
  • Russia also deployed in occupied Crimea Su-25SM3 warplanes from Russia's Stavropol Krai (Territory).
  • On April 16, U.S. Chargé d'Affaires to the OSCE Courtney Austrian made a statement on Russia's illegal restriction on the freedom of navigation in the Kerch Strait. According to her, Russia's occupation and militarization of the Crimean peninsula has consequences far beyond Ukraine's borders and threatens transatlantic security.