MOSCOW, November 26. /TASS/. Russian border guards did everything possible to peacefully resolve the Kerch Strait incident, after Ukrainian navy ships had illegally entered Russia’s territorial waters, Russian Federation Council (upper house of parliament) Defense and Security Committee Chairman Viktor Bondarev told TASS on Monday.
"I would like to point out that Russia did everything possible to resolve the situation peacefully. The ships’ captains were warned several times that they were violating the law, they were already in our waters and needed to leave the area," he said, adding that the Ukrainian navy officers "ignored those warnings and did nothing to leave" Russia’s waters. At the same time, Bondarev said that the crew members had been used as cannon fodder.
"Under those circumstances, Russian border guards demonstrated not only civility and high professionalism but also restraint and humanity. They refrained from sinking the ships and firing at the crew members, they spared their lives. Only a few Ukrainian sailors suffered light wounds that are not life-threatening," the senior Russian lawmaker went on to say.
According to Bondarev, the ships’ captains and crew members will now be taken to court and will be duly punished, while their families will be left to the mercy of fate as the Ukrainian authorities are sure to forget those who "risked their lives to fulfill orders."
Bondarev slammed the incident as a provocation, saying that it might not be the only one. "In the near future, provocations may be expected to take place in the DPR and the LPR [the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics - TASS], as well as in other areas," he said.
In his view, the reasons behind such actions are clear. "The presidential election is nearing but Poroshenko’s support rating is critically low. He has partially lost the United States’ trust so the Americans will not use the "maidan" methods to keep him in power. Delaying the election is the only way for him to remain in power for a little longer," the lawmaker explained, adding that elections were not held under martial law.
"The mess the Ukrainians created in the Kerch Strait serves as an excuse to declare martial law," he noted.
The Federation Council defense and security committee chairman was confident that "it is important [for Russia] to convey its message to the international community, initiating United Nations Security Council discussions of Ukraine’s illegal actions." "A criminal investigation has been opened after a crime was committed, so everything is perfectly clear," Bondarev said, noting that "it would be a crime" not to respond to an intrusion in Russia’s territorial waters.
According to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), on the morning of November 25, three ships from the Ukrainian Navy - the Berdyansk, the Nikopol and the Yany Kapu - illegally crossed Russia’s border and tried to carry out some illegal actions in Russian territorial waters later in the day. They ignored legitimate demands to stop issued by vessels belonging to the FSB Border Service and the Black Sea Fleet and continued maneuvering dangerously. In order to stop the Ukrainian ships, weapons had to be used. The three vessels were detained in Russian territorial waters. Three Ukrainian military servicemen suffered light wounds and were provided with medical assistance.
A criminal investigation has been opened into the border incident.