WASHINGTON DC, The United States – The United States will provide $10 million in additional aid to the Ukrainian Navy after the Kerch incident, State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said.
“In response to Russia’s dangerous escalation and unjustified November 25 attack on three Ukrainian naval vessels near the Kerch Strait, the Department of State, subject to Congressional approval, will provide an additional $10 million in Foreign Military Financing to further build Ukraine’s naval capabilities,” Palladino said.
“We do so in solidarity with Lithuania and the United Kingdom, also planning to increase their security assistance to Ukraine,” he continued.
“The United States calls on Russia to immediately return to Ukraine the seized vessels and detained Ukrainian crews, to keep the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov open to ships transiting to and from Ukrainian ports, and to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters,” Palladino added.
On 25 November, three Ukrainian navy vessels violated the Russian border by entering a provisionally closed area of the Black Sea and advanced towards the Kerch Strait, which connects the Black and Azov seas and separates the Crimean peninsula from the rest of the territory Russian.
Ukrainian vessels have made dangerous maneuvers and have become deaf to demand to suspend their actions, so they were detained with 24 crew members, who are currently being prosecuted in a criminal action on the illegal border crossing.
Moscow called the Ukrainian provocation attack and said that Kiev violated the fundamental rules of international law, while Russian defenses acted according to the law.
After this incident, the Ukrainian authorities imposed martial law in 10 provinces of the country for 30 days.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that this Kiev incident seeks to earn points ahead of the presidential elections scheduled for March 31, 2019.
Russian President Vladimir Putin defended the behavior of the Russian Coast Guard and recalled that Kiev publicly threatened and on more than one occasion with the crossing of the Crimean bridge. Therefore, he said, there was no choice but to stop the Ukrainian ships.