Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Ukraine bars entry to Russian men aged 16 to 60

Ukraine’s new front is Europe’s big challenge Putin defends 'lawful' seizure of Ukrainian ships
Leonard Rios | 01 December, 2018, 17:40

"Today, the entry of foreigners is limited - primarily citizens of the Russian Federation - non-admission of citizens of the Russian Federation aged from 16 to 60, male", Petro Tsygyka, the Ukrainian head of the border service, said in a televised meeting Friday. Nevertheless, Moscow accused Kyiv of ignoring protocol in applying for passage.

The violent incident on the approach to the Kerch Strait is not how many in the West envisage the path to war in Europe. Their crews were detained by the Russian border service after they failed to respond to warnings and a lawful demand to stop. This includes a potential Russian stranglehold over the port of Mariupol, from which flows steel and iron constituting 40 percent of Ukraine's annual export revenue and a large portion of its grain exports. The Berdyansk's crew was lucky to survive unscathed.

Fighter jets and attack helicopters were deployed to assist Russian vessels, which chased the Ukrainian ships down, rammed one and opened fire on all three.

In the wake of the 2014 annexation of Crimea, Ukraine started to build a wall along some of its borders but the project has stalled because of a lack of funds.

The Ukrainian vessels refused to obey Russian directives to halt.

The Sea of Azov became a virtual Russian lake, access to which was controlled by Russia, just as access to the Black Sea is controlled by Turkey.

"Three Nato members - Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey - are littoral states with their own national capabilities deployed in the Black Sea region", Nato spokesperson Oana Lungescu said.

No one wants war, but this is how one gets a war.

"Moscow will certainly do everything to abide by conventions on diplomatic relations and protect Ukraine's diplomatic facilities in our country", she said.

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But was Putin really the provocateur in Sunday's naval clash outside Kerch Strait, the Black Sea gateway to the Sea of Azov? Although, those Ukrainian vessels could still play a vital role in guarding this base against Russian commando infiltration.

The White House said on Wednesday that U.S. President Donald Trump had a phone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the recent Kerch Strait incident. The Kremlin insists this would be an extremely negative development (Interfax, November 29). "Russian coast guard ships take under control the civilian ships going to our ports and take some time to check all documents", said Nosenko.

Merkel told a Ukrainian business forum in Berlin that the pipeline would go ahead, but that Germany would "ensure Ukraine remains an important transit country". These corvettes have been shooting Kalibr missiles at Syria from the Caspian and from the Mediterranean.

The fear of a Western-led conspiracy against vital Russian interests in the Black and Azov seas may explain the extreme Russian reaction.

Erdogan said he would hold more talks concerning the standoff with both Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G-20 summit meeting in Buenos Aires.

Cultural exchanges were also caught in cross-fire.

Martial law has been imposed in 10 Ukrainian regions until December 26.

In Ukraine, President Petro Poroshenko is likely to benefit from the martial law he imposed.

Ukraine's president announced Thursday that the Constantinople patriarchy has approved a decree granting the Ukrainian Orthodox Church independence from the Russian Orthodox Church, a major boost to the president's approval ratings. They have been taken from Crimea to Moscow.

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