UPDATE - Ships bound for Russia-controlled ports to be deemed ‘potential military cargo carriers’: Ukraine

UPDATE - Ships bound for Russia-controlled ports to be deemed ‘potential military cargo carriers’: Ukraine

Navigation in northeastern areas of Black Sea, Kerch-Yenikale Strait is prohibited as dangerous, says Ukrainian Defense Ministry


By Burc Eruygur

ISTANBUL (AA) – Ukraine on Thursday announced it will consider ships either sailing to Russian ports or towards Ukrainian ports under Russian control in the Black Sea to be “potentially carrying military cargo,” following a similar decision by Russia a day earlier.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the decision will become effective as of Thursday midnight (2100GMT).

It also said navigation in the northeastern parts of the Black Sea as well as the Kerch-Yenikale Canal was prohibited as it is dangerous as of 5 a.m. (0200GMT) on Thursday.

“Relevant navigational information for mariners has already been published,” said the statement, which accused Russia of “brutally violating the universal right to free navigation for the whole world” and “deliberately undermining food security, condemning millions of people to starvation.”

It also accused Russia of turning the Black Sea into a “danger zone” and directed the responsibility for all risks in this regard towards the Russian leadership.

On Wednesday, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that it would consider all ships en route to Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea as “potential carriers of military cargo,” a decision which it said would be effective as of Wednesday midnight.

- ‘Russian statements attack freedom of navigation’

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has condemned Russia's announcement on Wednesday that it would consider all ships en route to Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea to be "potential carriers of military cargo."

In a statement, the ministry described Moscow’s decision as “an attack on freedom of navigation throughout the world.”

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry stated that "intentions to treat foreign ships as military targets grossly violate Russia's obligations under international law not only to Ukraine but also to all states that conduct peaceful navigation in the Black Sea."

It added that norms of international humanitarian law “prohibit any attacks against ships of neutral states if they do not participate in hostilities or support such actions,” and that Russia’s actions “cannot be justified by any norms of international law.”

“Russia's statement does not have any legitimate military objective, instead it is aimed at intimidating Ukraine and neutral states. Russia's statement applies to the entire Black Sea, not just the territory immediately around Ukrainian ports, and, moreover, does not make exceptions for medical and other humanitarian reasons, as required by the laws of warfare at sea,” it said.

The ministry described Russia's withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative on Monday, as well as recent Russian missile strikes on Ukraine's port infrastructure, as "attempts to eliminate a competitor from the market, deliberately increase world food prices, and enrich themselves at the expense of the suffering of millions of people around the world."

“We appeal to our partners to fully support Ukraine's initiative to create a humanitarian maritime corridor in the Black Sea … We call on the international community to condemn Russia's actions and take appropriate measures to guarantee the safety of navigation in the Black Sea as a guarantee of food security in the world,” the statement concluded.

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