MOSCOW, February 22. /TASS/. Russia won’t let Ukraine stage new provocations in the Kerch Strait and is carrying out the necessary diplomatic effort, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told the Bolshaya Igra (Big Game) program on Channel One.
Earlier on Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Ukraine’s authorities were preparing another provocation in the Kerch Strait and were trying to involve NATO countries into it.
In comment on Moscow’s reaction to a possible provocation by Kiev, Zakharova said: "The Russian leadership has given its response. First, by the steps taken when the first provocation was carried out and second, by explaining that these provocations won’t be allowed."
According to the diplomat, the Foreign Ministry is carrying out a diplomatic effort on preventing such incidents. In particular, Lavrov drew attention to this issue at bilateral meetings during the Munich Security Conference held on February 15-17.
Kerch Strait standoff
On November 25, three warships of the Ukrainian Navy violated the rules of passage through Russia's territorial waters while en route from the Black Sea to the Azov Sea. The Russian side had to use weapons to compel the ships to stop. Three Ukrainian servicemen were lightly wounded. They received medical assistance. The ships were detained and escorted to the port of Kerch. A criminal case was launched on border violation charges.
Moscow described the incident as a provocation. The Ukrainian authorities declared martial law. The EU and NATO called for de-escalation of the situation. A number of countries, including the United States, criticized Russia and called for releasing the Ukrainian sailors.
Twenty-four Ukrainian sailors were arrested and taken to a Moscow pre-trial detention center. They have been charged with illegally crossing Russia’s state border, and face up to six years in jail if found guilty.