President Petro Poroshenko emphasizes that Ukraine will not allow Russia to decide how we should use the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait and will apply all legal mechanisms to protect its interests.
“We will never recognize the occupation of the Sea of Azov, which Russia is trying to organize now. We will never recognize the occupation of the Kerch Strait. And we insist on international law, we will use the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov,” the Head of State said in the interview to CNN Turk.
“Because the Azov Sea is the zone of economic activity of a multimillion agglomeration in the east of my country. I hate the idea that Russia will decide how we should use the Azov Sea. We will not allow this,” Petro Poroshenko said.
The President recalled the aggression of Russian troops against Ukrainian ships in the neutral waters of the Black Sea and the capture of Ukrainian sailors. “This was not only in the Kerch Strait. Regular Russian troops under the Russian flag attacked a vessel of the Ukrainian fleet, opened fire with 30-mm weapons, without any reason opened fire on my sailors, launched an assault operation, provoking Ukrainians to open fire in response,” the Head of State said.
He noted that Ukraine had evidence that the Russian attack had been carried out in neutral waters. “We have video, radio interception, satellite images – we have everything. In the neutral waters of the Black Sea, not far from Turkey, by the way,” the President emphasized.
“And Russia speaks about provocations? These are open international waters, these are internal Ukrainian waters. There is international law and a bilateral treaty, where the Kerch Strait is a common strait belonging both to Ukraine and Russia. And this was just a planned move from Odesa to Mariupol for the rotation of these two small warships. They do not have any additional weapons, additional members of the crew, nothing,” the Head of State emphasized.
Petro Poroshenko said that Russia cannot explain why and who decided to attack the Ukrainian ships. “However, this is an act of aggression. This is a legal responsibility of the Russian Federation for attacking my ships. 24 Ukrainian sailors who are now in Moscow. It does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Russian court. They are prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention. And Russia should immediately return my soldiers,” the President stressed.
The Head of State noted that appeals to Putin and demands for the release of Ukrainian seamen were heard at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, from the European Union, NATO, the G7 countries, the United States, Canada, Japan and many others. “From all over the world. Why did it happen? Because Putin was not able to explain what exactly he is doing, why he opened fire, why he attacked a warship. The situation is getting worse,” Petro Poroshenko said, reminding that sanctions are being used to keep Russia at the negotiating table.
The President also drew attention to the security issues in the Black Sea. He stressed that this is an extremely important issue for all states of the Black Sea region – Ukraine, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia. “And only Russia is trying to destabilize the situation,” Petro Poroshenko said.
In this context, the Head of State expressed confidence that Russia should explain why the new complex of air defense C-400, a new anti-ship complex are now located in Kerch and Feodosia. “This is absolutely unacceptable. We will not allow the militarization of the Black Sea. And in this situation, we must be ready to answer,” the President emphasized.