Russia has partially unblocked the Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, said the Ukrainian authorities today, suggesting a tighter tension in this delicate area in the heart of a stalemate between Kiev and Moscow.
Crucial for Ukrainian exports, "the ports of Berdiansk and Mariupol are partially unblocked". Ships enter and leave the Kerch Strait "connecting the Black Sea to that of Azov, Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure, Volodymyr Omelyan, said in a statement.
"The Russian side stops them and inspects them as before, but the traffic has partially resumed," he said.
According to him, 17 ships were still waiting for Monday to enter the Sea of Azov and another patient to leave.
Worst arm wrestling
Kiev and Moscow were engaged in their worst fight for several years after Russia's military arrest on November 25 on three Ukrainian military ships attempting to enter the Azov Sea.
This is the first military confrontation open between Moscow and Kiev from the annexation of Russia in 2014 of the Ukrainian Crimean peninsula and the beginning of the same year of armed conflict in eastern Ukraine between government separatists and pro-Russian separatists who claimed more than 10,000 lives.
Fears of a vast escalation
Before the naval accident, Kiev and the West had accused Russia for months of "deliberately hindering" the navigation of commercial ships across the Kerch Strait, which Moscow claimed control following annexation Crimean.
In response to this recent wave of tension, Kiev has introduced martial law for a month in its border and coastal regions, claiming to fear a "total war" in Moscow that accuses to have drastically strengthened its military presence in the Ukrainian border .
This confrontation has revived the fears of a wider escalation between these two former Soviet republics. If Western countries have supported Ukraine in this conflict, they have called on both sides to curb.