German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that the West was imposing sanctions on Russia to stand up for international law.
Merkel added that she would address the Sea of Azov issue with Russian President, Vladimir Putin, at an upcoming G20 summit slated for Nov. 30 to Dec. 1.
The German Chancellor said this at a Germany-Ukraine conference in Berlin.
“We don’t impose sanctions on Russia for sanctions’ sake; rather we impose sanctions to make clear that countries even if their territorial situation puts them close to Russia have the right to their own development.
“Those are the principles of international law.”
The European Union’s hawks have called for more sanctions on Russia after a fresh flare-up of tensions with Ukraine but the divided bloc is not going to act swiftly, if at all, diplomatic sources have said.
Similarly, Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, Volodymyr Omelyan, earlier on Thursday accused Russia of barring ships from leaving and entering the sea, days after Moscow seized three Ukrainian naval vessels and their crews.
Overall, 35 vessels have been prevented from carrying out normal operations and only vessels moving toward Russian ports on the Azov Sea are permitted entry, he said on Facebook.
“The goal is simple – by placing a blockade on Ukrainian ports on the Azov Sea, Russia hopes to drive Ukraine out of our own territory – territory that is ours in accordance will all relevant international laws,” he said.
Omelyan said 18 vessels were awaiting entry into the Azov Sea, including four to Berdyansk and 14 to Mariupol.
There is also a line of nine vessels to leave the Azov Sea and eight other vessels are standing by near the port berths.
Russia seized three Ukrainian navy ships and their crews on Sunday near the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014, over what it said was their illegal entry into Russian waters – a charge Ukraine strongly refutes.
The seizure of the navy vessels drove tension to its highest since 2015, when Moscow-backed rebels rose against the Kiev government in the eastern Donbass region, sparking a war that has killed tens of thousands.
Kremlin denies Ukrainian charge it is restricting shipping near Crimea.
The Kremlin on Thursday denied a Ukrainian allegation that Russia was restricting shipping near Crimea as part of what Kiev said was a de facto blockade of its ports on the Sea of Azov.
Speaking at a conference, Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said he was unaware of any such problems and said shipping traffic was moving normally through the Russian-controlled Kerch Strait which separates the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
Peskov said delays did sometimes occur in the area as a result of bad weather however. (Reuters/NAN)