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Ukrainian naval commander uses bravado to whitewash failed Kerch provocation

Commander of the Ukrainian Navy, Igor Voronchenko assured that the decision to send three vessels to the Sea of Azov "wasn’t wrong"

KIEV, November 29. /TASS/. Ukraine sent its gunboats to the Kerch Strait to show off what they can do, Commander of the Ukrainian Navy, Igor Voronchenko, told a briefing in Kiev on Thursday.

He assured that the commander’s decision to send three vessels to the Sea of Azov, which had violated the Russian state border during their passage and had been detained by the Coast Guard of the FSB Border Service, wasn’t wrong.

"Firstly, the passage of escort ships through the Kerch Strait had taken place already. Here it is the same thing," he stated. "The group of vessels had been escorted by a tugboat. Secondly, we should’ve shown, not hidden our face in the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov, and shown off the capabilities of those gunboats."

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) reported on November 25 that the Ukrainian warships, the Berdyansk, the Nikopol and the Yany Kapu had breached the Russian state border on Sunday morning and later attempted to carry out illegal maneuvers in Russia’s territorial waters later. The Ukrainian vessels ignored the legitimate demands of the Coast Guard of the FSB Border Service and the Black Sea Fleet to immediately halt, and put an end to performing dangerous maneuvers. As a result of blatantly disregarding the orders, a chase involving some gunfire ensued in order to stop the Ukrainian ships, which were detained in Russian territorial waters.

Moscow branded Kiev’s maneuvers in the Kerch Strait as a dangerous provocation, while the European Union and the NATO called for a de-escalation of tensions.

On Wednesday, Crimean courts imposed two-month pre-trial detentions on all 24 Ukrainian sailors, who are suspected of breaching the Russian state border.