Kremlin sets out view of Ukrainian warship incident
A Ukrainian naval vessel that sailed close to Russian waters on Thursday was behaving “provocatively” and could have created a dangerous situation, Moscow has claimed.
Speaking with journalists on Friday, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said, “The incident once more demonstrates the potential harm and potential danger that can result from such provocative actions.”
His statement comes after Russia’s FSB security agency announced on Thursday night that a Ukrainian ship, named the ‘Donbass,’ had left the Port of Mariupol in Ukraine and was heading without permission towards the Kerch Strait, which connects the Sea of Azov with the Black Sea. The FSB reported that the ship came dangerously close to Russian waters before turning around. “We view the actions of the Ukrainian ship’s crew as provocative and a threat to the safety of navigation,” the agency said.
Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also addressed the incident during an appearance on Russian’s Channel One on Friday. “In my opinion, it’s obvious,” she said. “It’s a routine provocation. It’s just not the only one, not an individual occurrence. It’s a collection of provocative actions taking place around our borders.”
Ukraine’s Joint Forces Operation insisted on Thursday that the ‘Donbass’ never entered restricted waters, and said the allegations that it threatened the safety of navigation were “fake.” Aleksey Reznikov, the Ukrainian Minister of Defense, commented, “It’s very strange that Russian special forces saw a threat from an unarmed search-and-rescue vessel, when FSB ships are constantly sitting two kilometers from [Ukrainian ports] Mariupol and Berdyansk.”
Tensions between Moscow and Kiev have soared in recent weeks, with Ukrainian intelligence services, together with American agencies, reporting that they suspected an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied these accusations.