Within hours of the decision to cancel the Black Sea deployment, Russia moved to block access to the Kerch Strait, which serves as a key access point to the Ukrainian ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk.
Interfax reported the closure, and a Ukrainian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying, “Such actions of the Russian Federation are yet another attempt, in violation of the norms and principles of international law, to usurp the sovereign rights of Ukraine as a coastal state, since it is Ukraine that has the right to regulate shipping in these waters of the Black Sea.
Also, this step is a gross violation of the right to freedom of navigation, guaranteed by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. According to the Convention, the Russian Federation should not impede or interfere with transit passage through the international strait to ports in the Sea of Azov.”
The Russian closure of the Kerch state will block Ukrainian and other foreign warships from accessing the waterway, and the closure will remain in effect until October.
Russia vowed to retaliate for a wave of new sanctions President Joe Biden announced against the country on Thursday, saying “Washington must realize that a price will be paid for bilateral relations’ degradation.”
Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it summoned U.S. Ambassador to Russian John Sullivan shortly after the Thursday sanctions announcement.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said, “The Ambassador was told that a series of retaliatory measures would follow shortly.” Russia criticized the Biden administration’s sanctions, saying they are “contrary to the declared intention to ‘build pragmatic relations with Russia.’”