Ukraine will never abandon use of its Azov Sea ports - Poroshenko

Ukraine will never abandon use of its Azov Sea ports - Poroshenko

Ukraine will never abandon the use of its Azov Sea ports, including by military vessels, and will take all political and diplomatic measures to restore free navigation in the Azov and Black Sea region, President Petro Poroshenko has said.

He said this at a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) on Wednesday, December 26, according to an Ukrinform correspondent.

"I emphasize firmly and convincingly that Ukraine will never abandon the use of its Azov Sea ports, including by military vessels. [...] The truth is on our side, including the international one. The support of the world is on our side, and we will use all political and diplomatic means for this," Poroshenko said.

He said that the international community, in its estimates of the incident in the Kerch Strait, looks much more unanimous than Ukrainian politicians.

In this context, the head of state said it was unacceptable to impose Russian propaganda on Ukrainian society.

"Unfortunately, the problem lies not only in the fact that the government worked less than expected on some issues. You experience a real shock when you see and hear how our opposition dances to Putin's tune, how it announces the gag orders of the Kremlin and stubbornly tries to shift the blame for the attack on our boats from Russia onto Ukraine. Unfortunately, it is done not only by the part of the opposition, which traditionally slams the [Ukrainian] authorities. Unfortunately, it is also done by those who have very recently joined the coalition 'European Ukraine'," Poroshenko said.

As reported, on November 25, Russian border ships committed aggressive actions against Ukrainian vessels that were en route from the port of Odesa to the port of Mariupol. They fired on and seized three Ukrainian ships with 24 Ukrainian sailors in the Kerch Strait.

In this regard, Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council proposed that President Poroshenko declare martial law in the country for 60 days.

Poroshenko initially signed a decree enacting the NSDC decision to introduce martial law in Ukraine for 60 days - from November 26 to January 25. However, he said later he would recommend that the Verkhovna Rada introduce martial law for 30 days in order not to postpone the beginning of the presidential election campaign, which starts on December 31.

On November 26, the Verkhovna Rada adopted the law approving a presidential decree on the introduction of martial law for 30 days in ten regions of Ukraine along the border with Russia and the Ukrainian-Moldovan border along the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, as well as inland waters of the Azov-Kerch water area.

According to the presidential decree, the legal regime of martial law was introduced from 14.00 on November 26, 2018 for a period of 30 days until 14.00 on December 26, 2018.

On December 13, the European Council issued conclusions on the events in the Sea of Azov and around the Kerch Strait. In particular, paragraph 8 of the conclusions is entirely devoted to Russia's aggression in the Azov Sea and the development of the situation around the Kerch Strait and in the region as a whole.

Ukraine insists on the introduction of new international sanctions against Russia in connection with its aggression in the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea.

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