The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine published an audio recording of intercepted radio communications between Russian Command and their crews of coast guard vessels, who attacked, rammed, and captured Ukrainian boats near the Kerch Strait, preventing their passage to the Sea of Azov as part of a scheduled redeployment routine.
As UNIAN reported earlier, on the morning of November 25, Russia, using a tanker they claimed had "ran aground," blocked the passage in the Kerch Strait for Ukrainian "Yany Kapu" tugboat and two small-sized "Berdiansk" and "Nikopol" armored artillery boats. The vessels were on a scheduled redeployment from the port of Odesa to the port of Mariupol in the Sea of Azov.
According to Ukraine's Navy, the Russian side was informed about transfer plans in advance in accordance with international rules. However, Russia's "Don" coast guard ship rammed a Ukrainian tugboat contrary to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Treaty between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on Cooperation in the Use of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait.
Subsequently, during the passage of ships from the waiting area to the permanently-based point, somewhere at a distance of 13-14 miles from the coast of Crimea and about 40 km southeast of Kerch, the Ukrainian ships, which were accompanied by Russian vessels, were fired upon and blocked. Three Ukrainian seamen were wounded and three – injured.
The following is a transcript of the intercepted communications, translated into English.
Warning: Explicit content.
- Lieutenant Colonel Sharapov here
- I'm giving you the Commander. This is the "Don" [the Russian ship that is seen in the video ramming a Ukrainian tug boat]
Mikhail Shatokhin: Well, I bumped it a second time, tore it a little along the stern. We're thinking maybe we should f**king hit those military [boats], not the tug. They will definitely stop then. Those military [boats] are maneuverable, they began maneuvering fast.
- Mikhalych, there's an order from the border guard service to f**k them up by ramming them, to f**king damage everything.
- Operative unit here, Captain Basov. Moscow asks, who did the ramming.
- It's the Don.
- Who was the target?
- Give me the location where the ramming was done and your current location, too.
Here, the crew navigator joins in the comms.
- The first ram - 4456 0 3630 8. Time 07:35. Second ram - 4456 6 3630 5. Time 07:44.
- No more rammings?
- Not yet.
- Your coordinates?
- 4458 7 30 4.
- Maybe the four of us f**king ram that one [boat]? Then the other?
- Well, I'm trying, but it's maneuvering. He realized that it's maneuverable, so and as soon as I come close he flees. It makes a sharp turn and flees.
- We must f**k them up! We have to f**king finish them. [Admiral Gennady] Medvedev is already yelling in such a panic. It seems that the president [Vladimir Putin] is already in control of this sh*t.
- I know, I got it. We're trying.
- Have you tried f**king hitting it somewhere at a propeller part or something? Have you tried f**king hitting it with your bow?
- We tried. He doesn't let us close.
- Have you tried showering it from a water cannon?
- No, here's the thing, they're not working.
- We had a serious collision with the Izumrud.
- You two collided?
- We'll be in all reports now!
- Well, what now? Who can say someone won't be dismissed?
- Mikhalych, look. There are now ten guys coming, you know, the ones with those cool physical training skills.
- They'll be here shortly. Maybe in 50 to 60 minutes.
- So can we take them from the Zavetnyi on your boat?
- No, it's shallow there.
- Sharapov, what orders did you receive now? Were there any earlier?
- Shein spoke to me. I, frankly, would like to clarify: do I block them? He says that at least I must block the tug. But now I'm sitting here, realizing that it is impossible to block them to the north… or is it to the south, toward the exit from territorial waters?
- Toward the exit.
- Toward the exit? Wow! Well, then we will now be speeding up and catching up with them. It's seven knots now. We're catching up.
- Mikhalych, you did a great job. Your video is f***ing awesome. Your emotions are so genuine. You're already all across the TV.
- Come on, are you kidding?
- Seriously, I'm telling you.
“You haven't seen our damage yet. It's f***ed up.
- I'm working with tugs now. The tug has stopped, but people are standing there with machine guns.
- That's it, the tug stopped. People there with machine guns.
- Yes, sir.
- That's it for now. I got it.
- Kerch. Captain Bas, operative unit. Tell me who used weapons in warning shooting.
- The Izumrud.
- The Izumrud, yes.
- I can't get through to the Izumrud, there's a mess there. These Ukrainians are yelling. Are they drowning or what's going on there?
- Did he fire to kill? Wow!
- Yes, Roger that. Wait a sec.
- I got it.
The video from the Don's cockpit showing the moment the ship rammed the Ukrainian tug.
"The radio intercept is evidence of a deliberately aggressive escalation of the situation in the Black and Azov Seas in accordance with the instructions of the military and military-political leadership of the Russian Federation," the Ukrainian Armed Forces emphasized in a statement.