The Azov Sea Issue

The current aggravation relations Russian between Ukrainian around the Azov Sea began on March 25 this year, when Ukrainian border guards seized a Russian fishing vessel “Nord” and a Russian crew. After that Russia’s retaliatory measures against Ukraine followed, and the situation has reached the point where the most interested people in Kiev is being asked now to use “all power of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for military rebuff to Russia’s hybrid aggression”. It is important to note that if the Ukrainian “military thinkers” can not record the usage of weapons as an “aggressor country”, but prefer to the amorphous term “hybrid aggression”.
But what is the main core of the conflict with the “Nord”, which Russian of-ficials considered as an act of maritime piracy? The fact is that according to the bi-lateral accord on the inland waterways -sharing agreement for Russia and Ukraine, fishermen of both countries have the right to engage in fishing freely anywhere.
Although 100 meters from the “strange” shore. Nevertheless, Ukrainian na-val border guards detained a Russian vessel, checked the fishermen’s passports and detained them and their vessel, accusing them of violating the procedure … “entry to the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine.”
The inconvenience of the situation is that the Crimean fishermen didn’t en-ter in that zone. Since 2014 they have lived and worked in the Crimea, which Ukraine considers as its own. During this time they received Russian passports and border guards caught them with these passports.
Of course, the attempts to negotiate with Kiev didn’t take any effect. The ship and part of ship’s company (two of its members were still able to flee to Russia via Belarus) continue to remain in captivity. Russian border ships began to investigate Ukrainian vessels and vessels of other countries in Ukrainian ports or from these ports in the Azov Sea.
Tension was due to the fact that on the eve of the opening of the Crimean bridge across the Kerch Strait and immediately after its opening, Ukrainian social networks and television screens overwhelmed the wave of demands to bomb, to blow up this bridge by a suicide boat or other affairs. It added actions that were by no means mythical, for the preparation of riots and sabotage during the World Cup, some of them will be in Rostov-on-Don and Sochi.
Some Ukrainian politicians almost did not hide and intend to use the sports holiday to implement the “Croatian scenario” for the defeat of the People’s Republic of China and the People’s Republic of Germany in the days of its holding. In addition, Ukraine announced the closure of a huge part of the Azov Sea for three summer months, including controlled Donetsk republic, “for conducting military training exercise with rocket fire.”
Of course, all these threats, both real and potential, could not but cause con-cerns from Moscow.The responsibility for the safety of the participants and guests of the World Cup is taken by host country, so its security measures were seriously strengthened up to the transfer of ships and boats of the Caspian flotilla to the Black and Azov Seas.
“The reaction to these steps in Russia was predictable, and it was expected that is was hysterical about “intensifying hybrid aggression”. Moreover, transatlan-tic “friends” are provoked by Ukrainian politicians. “The reorganization of the Na-val Forces from the Caspian Sea to the Sea of Azov is made afraid because it al-lows the Russian fleet to moor to the coast. These vessels are not needed to protect the bridge or some actions against Ukrainian fishing vessels”, says Pavel Paul Goble, an analyst at the Jamestown Foundation.
The same opinion has the former head of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine, Army General Nikolai Malomuzh, one of the ideologists of the struggle with Russia: “Thanks to its actions in the Azov Sea Russia is becoming dominant in the region, daily economic control over all branches of Ukrainian production that are somehow related to shipping (metallurgy, ore, grain, etc.). In addition, Russia will be able to control this region with the help of the Navy and the Air Forces , so in the future it can also become a springboard for the possible deployment of operations against Ukraine. ”
Foreign Minister of Ukraine Klimenko suggests: “We have 15 or 16 pen-nants on the Azov Sea. This is Mariupol marine security unit. There are the same boats, heavily armed, weakly armed there. But our vessels, like the Russian mili-tary’s, can be anywhere in the Azov Sea. You can announce military exercise where Russian traffic is, you can and should accompany vessels that come from Mariupol and Berdyansk, or to Mariupol and Berdyansk. There is an experience from the Soviet times of displacement, when one military ship ousted another ship.”
“Activists” from Party”UKROP” created by the former Dnepropetrovsk governor Igor Kolomoysky are more resolute . In an open letter to Prime Minister Vladimir Groisman, they demand the severance of diplomatic relations with Russia, inform the Ukraine allied countries of “Russia’s aggressive actions in the Sea of Azov” and the announcement of this issue at a meeting of the UN Security Council. And, in addition to offering new sanctions created to “strangle Russia,” to form a combat-ready group of the Ukrainian Navy in the Azov Sea.
“The Permanent Representative of the President of Ukraine in the Crimea” Boris Babin complained that his country had already lost control of the areas bor-dering with the Crimea including suburbs Genicheska several days ago . “We in-sistently ask you Genichesk to be the city of the basing of the Marine Security Guard and the Ukrainian Navy. It is becoming key in the escalation of the conflict in Azov”- he says.
However, Ukraine doesn’t manage to achieve its goals … “If we talk about some kind of response in the combat format, then, of course, the State Border Guard Service is not enough, we have limited resources and even resources of our Marine Security Guard. They are also limited. We will not make secret, our boats, which are intended more for patrolling, are also morally outdated, and inferior to the capabilities of the of the Marine Security of the Border Guard Service of the Russian Federation,”- said Oleg Slobodyan, the Speaker of the State Border Ser-vice.
The Ukrainian fleet status will not allow either to use the “power variant” in the Azov or even to assemble at least small grouping of ships . Only the flagship of the Naval Forces, the guard ship of Soviet times “Sagaidachniy” is able to move independently. The rest of them are disabled boats, the firepower of the most modern of which is equal to the firepower of two armored personnel carriers or in-flatable motor boats, donated by the Americans.
There are calls to arms for the introduction into the Azov Sea of a powerful NATO fleet for ” protecting of Ukraine”. It is true that some “experts” forget about the fact that the maximum depth of the sea is only 13 meters, and the average depth is about 7.5 m. While the water draught, for example, of the tradgically famous American frigate “Donald Cook” is 9.4 meters. There is the Montreux Convention, which limits the number and tonnage of ships of non-Black Sea countries, located in the Azov-Black Sea basin at the same time.
Are there some sanctions and appeals of Kiev in the UN? There is no reason for them. In all international documents, the Azov Sea is listed as a joint inland sea of Russia and Ukraine, and they can keep such fleets as they want. What about complaints about the delays of ships going to and from Ukrainian ports? So this right is also in international agreements. Especially in a situation when the World Cup requires enhanced security measures, and Ukraine, which is represented by the Foreign Minister P. Klimkin, threatens to “spoil” the football festival to all the fans who are going to Russia.
There are also few chances for the termination of the integrated the Azov Sea utilization and the establishment of a 12-mile strip of territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone of Ukraine. Firstly, this will require negotiations with Russia, which are surely doomed to failure because Crimea will become a stum-bling block. Both countries consider it like their own, and they do not intend to abandon the peninsula. And secondly, it will hurt the Ukrainian fishermen who have a preference for Russians over a number of fishing quotas. In this case, they simply will not be able to catch it off the coast of Russia.
The hysteria will most likely end when the World Cup is over, security measures will be weakened, and Russian ships will return to the Caspian Sea.Russia does not intend to weaken its flotilla. If, of course, Ukraine does not take any new provocations during this time.

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