On 15 April 2021 Department of Navigation and Cartography of the Russia’s Ministry of Defense issued the Coastal Warning 152/21 by which Russia banned illegally the passage for foreign naval and other state vessels in the district waters of Black Sea, adjacent to the Kerch Strait from 24 April to 31 November 2021. By this Russia de-facto blocked the entry and exit from Sea of Azov for such vessels. Regarding the demands of the international law such ban is the blockade of Ukraine’s ports and shores and it may be qualified as a tool of aggression in framework of the interstate conflict.
Also such ban violates brutally the norms of the United Nations’ Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982 and proves that Ukrainian-Russian Treaty on the Sea of Azov, 2003 must be recognized as null and invalid, as it lost its subject. Also regarding the experts’ publications some provocation were done by Russian “coast guard” at night 14-15 of April, 2021 against the Ukrainian Navy’s boats in the Sea of Azov 25 miles to North from the Crimean shore.
As MFA of Ukraine pointed, such actions of the Russia are another attempt in violation of the norms and principles of international law to usurp the sovereign rights of Ukraine as a coastal state, as it is Ukraine that has the rights to regulate navigation in these areas of the Black Sea. Ukraine declared that this step is also a gross violation of the right to freedom of navigation guaranteed by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, as, according to the Convention, the Russia must not obstruct or impede transit through the international strait to ports in the Sea of Azov.
MFA of Ukraine stressed that against the background of the ongoing increase in its military presence along the border with Ukraine on land, Russia has begun to intensify the escalation at sea. It transfers warships from the Caspian Sea and strengthens its military potential in the Azov-Black Sea region, and, despite the lack of legal grounds, decided to close this area to warships of other countries, including Ukraine. The behavior of the Russian side indicates the absence of any intention on its part to refuse to continue the aggression against Ukraine using military and hybrid methods.
The MFA of Ukraine strongly protested against these actions of Russia and demanded immediate cancellation of the decision to illegally close certain waters of the Black Sea. Ukraine called on international partners to increase political and diplomatic pressure on the aggressor state in order to cancel the decision to close the waters and stop the escalation in the Azov-Black Sea region.