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Kerch Crisis: Ukraine requests NATO assistance

President Petro Poroshenko requests NATO naval support in the Azov Sea.



Eli Ridder | Report

The Kerch Strait crisis deepened on Thursday as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko urged the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to deploy armed naval vessels to the Sea of Azov to the complaint of Russia who claimed it escalated tensions.

In response to an interview question from German newspaper Bild, Poroshenko said “Germany is one of our closest allies and we hope that states within NATO are now willing to deploy naval vessels to the Sea of Azov in order to support Ukraine and to guarantee its safety.”

“The only language that he understands is the unity of the Western world. We cannot accept Russia’s aggressive policy. First, it was Crimea, then eastern Ukraine, now he wants the Sea of Azov.”

Ukraine is not formally a member of NATO, but the Western alliance has given its support to Kiev during the escalations with Moscow in the past and continues to do so currently. So far, it has not responded to Poroshenko’s call for naval support.

Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Ukrainian president’s request is “clearly aimed at provoking further tensions” and is driven by “electoral and domestic policy moves.”

On Nov. 25, Russia seized three Ukrainian naval vessels and their crews that were aiming to pass from the Black Sea into the shared Sea of Azov through the Kerch Strait, that lies between the Russian mainland and the Moscow-controlled Crimean Peninsula.

Both Kiev and Moscow have accused each other of “provocations”, with Ukraine responding by initiating martial law in much of Ukraine, especially in the east by its border with Russia, which went ahead after Poroshenko assured parliament it would not affect March elections.

Image from Bild interview. ■

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