On November 25, Russian Coast Guard boats attempted to stop a Ukrainian tugboat as it was on its way to transit the Kerch Strait from the Black Sea into the Azov Sea, between Russia and Russian-occupied Crimea. The incident ended with Russian vessels firing on two Ukrainian naval patrol boats that came to the aid of the tug, and Russian forces capturing all three Ukrainian vessels along with their crews. At least three Ukrainian sailors suffered minor wounds in the attack, although later reports indicate as many as six were wounded.
A bilateral treaty between Russia and Ukraine signed in 2003 and ratified by Russia in 2004 governs the use of the Kerch strait and the Sea of Azov, which in the words of the treaty is considered to be the “internal waters” of both Russia and Ukraine. Article 2 of the agreement guarantees freedom of movement through the straits and in the Sea of Azov to all Russian and Ukrainian commercial and military vessels.Read more