Ukraine-Russia Confrontation at Sea and at the UN

canadafreepress.com | 11/27/2018 | Joseph A. Klein, CFP United Nations Columnist
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The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting at Ukraine’s request on Monday to discuss Sunday’s maritime confrontation between vessels from Ukraine and Russia off the coast of the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula. The meeting followed a procedural vote rejecting Russia’s attempt to ram through its own meeting agenda as the first item of business. Russia wanted to get out in front and blunt Ukraine’s complaint of Russian aggression by portraying itself as the victim of Ukraine’s alleged invasion of Russian territorial waters.

The confrontation unfolded when two Ukrainian cutters and a tugboat heading from one Ukrainian port to another attempted to pass through a narrow sea passage known as the Kerch Strait. The strait is close to the Crimean Peninsula that separates the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. Russia would not let the ships pass, blocking the ships with a grounded tanker at a bridge Russia had constructed linking the Crimea Peninsula it had illegally annexed in 2014 with the Russian mainland. Not able to proceed to their destination because of Russia’s blockage, the Ukrainian cutters reportedly turned around. According to Ukraine’s account, Ukraine’s vessels were heading back to where they came from when Russia fired on the ships, injuring several sailors. Russia then seized the vessels, with 23 sailors on board.

Dmitry - A - Polyanskiy - First - Deputy

Dmitry A. Polyanskiy, the First Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, claimed in his remarks to the Security Council that Ukrainian naval vessels had “illegally” crossed into Russian territory, ignoring the efforts by Russian ships to warn them off. “Our country has never struck the first blow, but it can stand up for itself,” he told the Security Council. “The population of the Crimea, as well as other regions of Russia, is under reliable protection,” he declared. Using a colorful metaphor, Mr. Polyanskiy compared the...
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