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20 Dec, 2018 02:44

US lawmakers' 'reckless' call for navy op in Black Sea incites more mischief from Kiev – Senator

US lawmakers' 'reckless' call for navy op in Black Sea incites more mischief from Kiev – Senator

A resolution by US Senators calling on President Donald Trump to spearhead "multinational freedom of navigation operation" in the Black Sea is inciting Ukraine to commit new military provocations, a Russian lawmaker says.

The resolution introduced by 41 US Senators on Wednesday urges Trump to retaliate against what it calls "Russian aggression" seen during a standoff between Ukrainian and Russian ships in the Kerch Strait in November. The Senators want the US to lead a "robust freedom of navigation operation" in the Black Sea, and call for an end to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, linking Russia and Germany along the bottom of the Baltic Sea.

Also on rt.com 66 nations voted for whatever provocation now comes from Kiev – Russian senator

The resolution calls on Trump to boost military assistance to Ukraine and impose additional sanctions against Russia, as well as encourage NATO to beef up its military presence in and around the Black Sea. It also encourages European nations to deny Russian Navy ships access to their ports.

On top of that, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), who co-sponsored the draft, said that the US must "enhance lethal aid" to Ukraine. "We have to respond, and respond with strength," he said.

The resolution is a "reckless and very dangerous instigation," which emboldens Ukraine to commit new military provocations, said Konstantin Kosachev, the chair of the Russian Senate's Foreign Relations Committee.

Kosachev noted any provocation will fail since Russia can always cut off the Kerch Strait, which connects the Black and Azov Seas and separates Crimea from mainland Russia.

"Russia, no doubt, is capable of blocking the Strait in case of its unauthorized use, and it has already proved that to the fullest extent," Kosachev said. On November 25, three Ukrainian Navy vessels, including two combat-ready gunboats, entered the Kerch Strait without getting proper clearance first, according to Moscow. After ignoring multiple warnings and demands to stop, they were fired upon and seized by the Russian coast guard.

Russia won't hinder navigation for any countries' ships, provided they are abiding by the applicable rules and intend to use the waterway for peaceful passage, Kosachev said:"The passage was, is and, I hope, will be open."

That includes to Ukraine, but it has to make a choice: "Either keep trying to force an open door or learn to live by accepted maritime rules", he added.

The resolution comes several days after the UN General Assembly passed a resolution of its own, condemning the presence of the Russian military in the Crimean Peninsula and the surrounding waters of the Black Sea and the Azov Sea. The resolution is non-binding, and while it did get approved with 66 votes in favor, even more member states – 72 – abstained from voting altogether.

Kosachev said that the member-states who voted for it should bear a shared responsibility for any "crazy action" Kiev comes up with next.

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