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Opinions & Interviews

29 Nov 2018

Belarus willing to provide any assistance to settle Kerch Strait conflict

Belarus willing to provide any assistance to settle Kerch Strait conflict

MINSK, 29 November (BelTA) – Belarus is willing to provide assistance to help avoid the escalation of the situation in the Kerch Strait, Belarusian Ambassador to Austria, Permanent Representative of Belarus to the OSCE Alena Kupchyna stated at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on 29 November, BelTA learned from the Belarusian Embassy in Austria.

“The position of Belarus on the Ukrainian crisis settlement is well known, not only to the people in this hall. We genuinely, deeply interested and have consistently advocated the early peaceful resolution of the crisis in Ukraine and around the country. This is in the vital interest of our country and our people. We continue to offer in-principle support for the activities of the SMM in Ukraine and the efforts of the trilateral contact group on all its tracks, including by hosting its sessions in Minsk,” Alena Kupchyna said.

It is very regrettable for Belarus that the events in the Kerch Strait and their ramifications have vividly illustrated the credibility and relevance of the warnings that the world has come too close to the brink of a major conflict.“The Belarusian president spoke about this at the meeting of the Munich Security Conference Main Group not long ago. We believe that the most important thing today is to avoid further escalation of the situation, which may entail terrible consequences for the entire region. Should the events take an unfavorable turn, not only regional but also international security will be at risk,” the diplomat said.

The permanent representative of Belarus is convinced that today it is extremely important to refrain from any actions that can lead to new clashes. She called upon the parties to the conflict to remember that they are responsible for the security in the region.

“This does not mean that we are trying to give advice. Tensions have been rapidly growing in a close vicinity to Belarus. These tensions, although indirectly, affect our country, too. We have repeatedly said this. From the very beginning we could not remain indifferent observers. We would like to reaffirm our readiness to provide any possible assistance that can help avoid the escalation of the situation and bring its settlement forward,” Alena Kupchyna said.

The Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform reported on 28 November that Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko had signed the legislation to introduce a 30-day martial law in the country. Petro Poroshenko specified that the martial law declared in ten oblasts of Ukraine will end on 26 December and cannot be extended without the approval of the Ukrainian parliament.

The martial law has been prompted by an incident, which occurred in the Kerch Strait on 25 November. Ukraine claims that two Ukrainian armored boats and a tug boat were on the way from Odessa to Mariupol via the Kerch Strait and that Russia had been warned about their passage in advance. The Ukrainian vessels encountered aggressive actions on the part of the Russian border guard service at sea.

Russia claims that the Ukrainian vessels had violated the Russian border. The Federal Security Service (FSB) is quoted as saying that vessels of the Ukrainian navy violated the Russian border in the morning on 25 November. In the evening the vessels made another attempt at illegal actions within the Russian territorial waters. The Ukrainian vessels failed to respond to demands to heave to and continued dangerous maneuvering. Weapons were employed to stop the Ukrainian vessels. A criminal case has been opened into the violation of the Russian state border.

Both Ukraine and Russia describe the situation as a provocation.

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