Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 17.02.2019
The Russian Federation attacked the Ukrainian Navy on 25 November 2018. Because of this act of war the European Union and Ukraine will be sanctioning the Russian officials responsible. “There is no doubt that in the coming days, at the beginning of next week, sanctions in Brussels in coordination with Ukraine will be definitely adopted,” said Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
Three Ukrainian naval vessels – two armoured gunboats and a tug – were making a peaceful and announced transit from Odesa, Ukraine to Mariupol, Ukraine when they were attacked by Russian forces. The attack by the Russians was purposeful and unprovoked. The Russians rammed the Ukrainian tug, shot at the boats for the sea and air, pursued them into international waters of the Black Sea, boarded them and took the crews hostage.
Since the Russian Federation committed its open act of war on November 25 it has held 24 Ukrainian Navy sailors captive and has subjected them to kangaroo court proceedings in Moscow. The Russians refuse to treat them properly as prisoners of war, afford them the protections of the Third Geneva Convention, or allow delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross to see them.
The Russians still hold the three Ukrainian naval boats they pirated on the high seas. They refuse to release the vessels. The Russian Federation has also imposed a de facto maritime blockade on Ukrainian ports on the Sea of Azov by restricting passage of ships at the Kerch Strait.
The Russian Federation has been waging war against Ukraine for five years. The Russian attack on the Ukrainian Navy late last year was done without the thin disguise of “little green men” or “pro-Russian separatists” that has previously been adopted by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
Although modest in scope, the European Union will be introducing new sanctions this week because of new Russian aggression. It is believe that around eight Russian individuals will be included in an “Azov package” of sanctions.
Pavlo Klimkin, Foreign Minister of Ukraine, hinted at “more creative ideas” in response to Russian aggression, but he left the announcement of those ideas to EU officials on Monday. Minister Klimkin was speaking at the Munich Security Conference, where President Poroshenko was also conducting meetings and speaking.
Understanding Russia is impossible by definition, according to Pavlo Klimkin. That is why “dialogue with the Russians” is impossible in the context of Putin’s War against the Ukrainian people. Only a firm response can possibly check Russian aggression. For the sake of peace it is to be hoped that the measures to be announced by the EU and Ukraine will be that firm response.