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Ukraine Reiterates Call For 'Germany, Allies' To Increase Presence In Black Sea

03 December 2018
Ukraine Reiterates Call For 'Germany, Allies' To Increase Presence In Black Sea

On Sunday, a Kremlin spokesman said that Western leaders had listened to Russia's description of the events in the Kerch Strait last week.

Vitaliy Sinhur, a dock worker in Berdyansk, said the movement of ships has significantly ebbed.

Germany, France, Ukraine and Russian Federation will hold further talks at the advisor level about a shipping standoff in the Kerch Strait, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday, urging Moscow to let Ukrainian vessels enter the Sea of Azov.

Relations between the two neighbours have strained further following the November 25 incident in which Russian Federation fired upon and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels and their crews.

Ukraine's deputy defense minister, Anatoliy Petrenko, said the country is talking to its Western partners to respond to Russia's 'escalatory actions'.

Russia's military has around 80,000 troops, around 1,400 artillery and missile systems, 900 tanks, 2,300 armored vehicles, 500 airplanes, and around 300 helicopters all stationed in the "temporarily occupied" parts of Ukraine known as the Donbas and Crimea, Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko said.

Asked if he might consider exchanging the captive sailors for Russians in Ukrainian detention, Putin said: "We are not considering a swap and Ukraine did not raise this issue, and it's too early to talk about that", Putin said when asked if he would considering exchanging the sailors for Russians detained by Ukraine.

"There is no justification for this use of force", Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters on Monday. It must also allow freedom of navigation.

The relationship between Russia and Ukraine has worsened significantly ever since a pro-Western social movement ousted a pro-Russian president nearly five years ago.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation foreign ministers are set to discuss the incident later this week.

He added that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies have helped modernize Ukraine's armed forces, have boosted their presence in the Black Sea over the past year, with more ships deployed in the region and more air policing.

Ukraine says that its ships were operating in line with a 2003 treaty with Russian Federation envisaging free navigation for vessels of both countries in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait.

After many tense hours of maneuvering, the Russians opened fire and seized the Ukrainian vessels and 24 crew members.

Poroshenko said this tactic was used after Russian Federation seized Crimea and began to support separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, sparking a conflict that has left more than 10,000 people dead.

Kiev says its ships were in worldwide waters while Russian Federation claims the boats were violating its borders.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday there had been no discussion with Ukraine about the possible release of the Ukrainian sailors who were seized along with their ships by Russia last month.

Mr Poroshenko has said he tried to arrange a phone call with Mr Putin to discuss the standoff but was refused.

Though the substance of Trump's conversation with Putin on Friday was not detailed by the White House, Putin said that it had to do with the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.