Breaking: Russian Deployments to Kerch Strait
Earlier today, Russia commenced a blockade of the Kerch Strait, the body of water connecting the Crimean peninsula from Russia. This comes after three ships of the Ukrainian Naval Forces crossed into the Sea of Azov. Russia believes that this is an act of aggression, as such has responded with military deployments. Russia is halting all civilian traffic. Two of the Ukrainian ships are small patrol boats (Gurza-M, pictured below) while the third vessel is a tugboat *.
Russia has claimed that this area of maritime territory falls under Russia's area of interest, and thus has deemed Ukraine's presence illegal and a violation of sovereignty. As Russian officials have issued: "[Ukraine] illegally entered a temporarily closed area of Russian territorial waters" "This is, however, incorrect as according to a 2003 treaty the strait is international waters and thus shared territory.
In the aftermath of the 2014 Crimea crisis this should be particularly concerning. Fearing an escalation, two more Ukrainian Navy Ships are supposedly heading to the strait at "full speed" *. Russian jets have been seen deployed to the strait, with Russian special forces also being sighted **. Ukrainian gunboats are reportedly being tracked and monitored by Russian aircraft. The situation is ongoing.
*** Twitter: @hthjones
At the time of writing, Toby Irwin is a second year student at the University of St Andrews. He is studying Modern History and International Relations. Areas that interest him the most are UK defence strategy and foreign policy.