LONDON, February 13. /TASS/. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and its European partners are looking into anti-Russian measures in response to last year’s incident in the Kerch Strait, a spokesperson told TASS on Tuesday.
"The UK has been at the forefront of EU sanctions in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine. We fully supported new sanctions last year in response to Russian elections in Crimea and Sevastopol, the construction of the Kerch Bridge, and illegitimate elections in Eastern Ukraine. In response to the latest Russian aggression in the Black Sea, we continue to work closely with European partners to consider what concrete measures we can take," the spokesperson has told TASS, commenting on recent media reports about new EU and US anti-Russian sanctions being considered.
Russia has consistently rejected claims of aggression regarding the November 25 border incident in the Kerch Strait, connecting the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. As a result of the incident, 24 Ukrainian sailors were arrested on charges of illegally crossing the Russian border.
Reports of new sanctions
UK TV channel Sky News said on Tuesday, citing own sources, that the European Union and the United States were working on new sanctions against Russia in response to Russia’s detention of the Ukrainian sailors. According to the channel, London and its European allies are calling on Brussels to announce fresh restrictive measures against Moscow in the coming weeks.
According to the channel, initially some of the EU member states hoped that the matter could be settled via diplomatic channels. However, there have been no indication to the possibility of the sailors’ soonest release so far, Sky News said.
Meanwhile, Financial Times wrote that the matter could be discussed at a meeting of EU foreign ministers due next Monday, February 18, and fresh sanctions may be announced within two months. "This is waiting in the wings," an unnamed diplomat told the paper, citing internal documents. Another Western official said that the new sanctions are expected to target organizations and individuals involved in the detention of Ukrainian warships.
According to the Sky News report, the negotiations are currently being conducted at the working group level to blacklist more individuals and freeze more assets.
Kerch Strait incident
The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) reported on November 25 that three Ukrainian warships (the Berdyansk, the Nikopol and the Yany Kapu) had breached the Russian state border on Sunday morning and 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 stop immediately and end their dangerous action. The Ukrainian warships carried on, blatantly disregarding these orders, which triggered a chase involving some gunfire to stop them. Consequently, the ships were detained in Russian territorial waters.