KIEV, December 20. /TASS/. The Ukrainian authorities should abandon new attempts of provocations at sea and start a direct dialogue with Russia to see the Ukrainian sailors released, co-chairman of the Opposition Platform-For Life Yuri Boiko, a non-affiliated parliamentarian, said on Thursday.
"It would be better if the authorities returned our sailors so that they could usher in the New Year at home," he said in comments on a statement by National Security and Defense Council Secretary Alexander Turchinov, who had stated that Ukrainian warship would shortly make another attempt to sail through the Kerch Strait.
According to Boiko, such statements are a "deliberate provocation just before martial law ends". "We can hear numerous different appeals in parliament nowadays. But we believe Ukraine should move towards de-escalation in the Sea of Azov," the politician said.
It is necessary to seek that the Ukrainian ships could unimpededly sail to the Ukrainian ports, he went on to say. "For this, direct negotiations between Ukraine and the Russian Federation are needed. And it is very good that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has agreed to mediate in this process," Boiko said.
The leader of the Reasonable Force Party, Alexander Solovyov, said earlier on Thursday that the Ukrainian authorities "are instigating Russia to aggression with unfailing insistency". That is why Turchinov announced on December 19 the decision to once again send ships to the Kerch Strait, he said. "President Pyotr Poroshenko does not hesitate any longer taking its election games beyond the legal framework, imposing a war scenario on Ukraine time and again," Solovyov said.
On Wednesday, December 19, Turchinov stated in an interview with the BBC that Ukraine has no plans to cease the passage of its military vessels through the Kerch Strait, and did not rule out the possibility of eliminating the Crimean Bridge. He added that Ukraine is ready to invite representatives of the OSCE, NATO and other international organizations to be present at the Ukrainian vessels.
Kerch Strait incident
On November 26, Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, endorsed President Pyotr Poroshenko’s decree on imposing a 30-day martial law in the Vinnitsa, Lugansk, Nikolayevsk, Odessa, Sumy, Kharkov, Chernigov, Donetsk, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, as well as Ukraine’s territorial waters in the Sea of Azov. Initially, Poroshenko sought to impose martial law for 60 days, but this put into question holding the March presidential elections and sparked a public outcry.
The pretext for the decision to declare martial law was an incident in the Kerch Strait on November 25, when three Ukrainian warships, en route from Odessa to Mariupol, illegally crossed Russia’s state border, entered Russia’s territorial waters and started performing dangerous maneuvers.
Despite the repeated warnings and demands to stop, the Ukrainian vessels continued their way, forcing Russia to use weapons. All three Ukrainian ships were detained in the Black Sea. Three Ukrainian servicemen were slightly wounded and received medical assistance, and their lives are not under threat. A criminal case has been launched over the violation of Russia’s state border. Moscow slammed the incident as a provocation.