KIEV – In a major statement in an interview with BBC News Ukraine by the head of the Ukrainian General Staff Ruslan Homchak, the question of the passage of the Navy ships of the Armed Forces of Ukraine through the Kerch Strait into the Sea of Azov was raised. Speaking to this question, an entire shift in Ukrainian planning was revealed:
“As for the passage, today this question is also not worth it. We do not have so many Ukrainians that we could risk them in this way, ” said the general.
At the same time, he added that Ukraine does not intend to take positions in the Sea of Azov. Although he made a reservation that all decisions in this direction should be weighed.
“I can’t say that tomorrow we will pass through the Kerch Strait. First you need to deal with what happened, because the process is not completed. Our sailors, unfortunately, are in the prison cells of the Russian Federation, ” said Homchak.
These statements actually put an end to a long history, which lasted from last November and was associated with the ambitions of Petro Poroshenko to be re-elected for a second term.
Recall that on November 25, 2018, three ships of the Ukrainian Navy violated the state border of Russia in the Black Sea and maneuvered dangerously for several hours without reacting to the legitimate demands of the Russian authorities.
The border guards detained the ships , for which they had to use weapons. Three Ukrainian sailors were slightly injured. Total on board were 22 sailors and two employees of the SBU. All of them were arrested on charges of violating the state border.
Poroshenko used these events as a pretext to institute a martial law that would take him till the next election. The Rada rebuffed his request, granting him a limited martial law of just 30 days, and contained only to areas near the line of contact (the ceasefire line) and related sensitive territories in Ukraine.
Thereafter, Poroshenko spoke often about a second attempt to breach the Kerch Strait, next time assisted by an entire NATO entourage. While Germany and other states have entered ships or groups into the Black Sea giving signals of support, they also were clear that they were not going to engage in any sort of maritime provocation that could lead to a showdown between NATO/German and Russian naval forces at the Kerch Strait.
In the Kremlin, these events were considered a provocation, which was associated with a low rating of Petro Poroshenko on the eve of the elections, which Vladimir Zelensky eventually won.
Commenting on this incident, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Sergey Lavrov, explained that Russia does not obstruct Ukrainian ships as they pass through the Kerch Strait. Just for this they need to follow the necessary procedures.
However, while Poroshenko remained in power from Kiev, there were constantly calls to repeat the attempt to break through. At the same time, attempts were made to involve NATO ships in these illegal actions.