Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning navigation in the Sea of Azov

Question: How would you comment on the recent statement by the Foreign Office spokesperson accusing Russia of “disrupting Ukrainian and international shipping calling at Ukrainian ports” as well as “growing military presence” in the Sea of Azov?

Answer: These claims are a result of perverse attempts to dig out any fresh pretexts for accusations against Russia with regard to the conflict in Ukraine. In this light, lawful actions of Russian border guards are somehow presented as running against international norms. Russia is designated a culprit by default.

Let me remind you that the international legal status of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait is determined by bilateral international treaties, in particular, the Treaty between Russia and Ukraine on the Russia-Ukraine State Border of January 28, 2003 and the Treaty between Russia and Ukraine on Cooperation in Using the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait of December 24, 2003. These documents confirm that “the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait are historically internal waters of the Russian Federation and Ukraine”.

Any inspections carried out by the Russian authorities are exclusively aimed to ensure security in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait. They do not conflict with any international law standards applicable to the sea. The freedom of navigation in the Sea of Azov is therefore being upheld. We call on the UK government to stop inventing out of touch pretexts to blame Russia and instead to direct its tireless efforts at creating international conditions conducive to implementing the Package of Measures under Minsk agreements agreed by the parties to the Ukrainian conflict.