Russia cutting off access to most of Black and Azov Seas, ‘may be preparing to blockade Ukrainian ports’
Russia is closing access to most of the Black and Azov Seas and may be setting the scene for a blockade of Ukrainian ports, BlackSeaNews Editor-in-Chief Andrii Klymenko said in a post on Facebook on Feb. 9.
Klymenko backed up his warning by publishing a map of restricted zones in parts of the Black and Azov Seas where Russia plans to hold “missile and artillery drills,” from Feb. 13 to Feb. 19.
According to Klymenko, this is the first time in eight years that exceptions in such restrictions have not been made for commercial vessels.
“…We do not want to spread panic, but this looks a lot like preparations to blockade Ukrainian ports from the sea,” wrote Klymenko.
“The Black Sea is being blocked to the north-west, 12 miles away from Ukraine’s territorial waters, while the Sea of Azov is being blocked from the annexed Crimean coast all the way to Krasnodar coast in Russia.”
Klymenko also sarcastically asked if anyone was willing to print out the map “on premium paper” and send it personally to the French President Emmanuel Macron, who had recently travelled to Moscow for talks on de-escalation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and claimed that his visit there had been “a success.”
Earlier, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that Russian amphibious assault ships would be moving to the Black Sea, allegedly to engage in military drills “to defend Russia's national interests” and “counteract military threats”. According to expert data, Russia is sending six large amphibious assault ships to the Black Sea.
In early February, Russia also moved patrol boats closer to the Sea of Azov.
Russia began its unprecedented military buildup on Ukraine’s border in October 2021, and now has approximately 140,000 troops surrounding Ukraine from the Russian side of the Russian-Ukrainian border, in Belarus, and in the temporarily occupied territories of Crimea and the Donbas.
In late 2021, Klymenko told The Washington Post that Russia was the dominant power in the Black Sea, and would leverage its marine dominance to put pressure on Ukraine’s coastal regions in the event of a new escalation.
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