Amid escalating bilateral tensions, the Russian FSB arrested a Ukrainian diplomat. The Interfax news agency reported that the consul in Saint Petersburg tried to obtain documents classified as classified. He has been detained since Friday. Ukraine has not issued a statement yet.
Relations between the governments in Kiev and Moscow are increasingly tepid. According to Ukrainian information, Russia has gathered tens of thousands of soldiers on the common border. Meanwhile, according to the navy, 15 Russian warships passed through the Kerch strait in the Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014. They are supposed to participate in an already announced exercise in the Black Sea.
‘A troubling development’
On Friday, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced the closure of some sea areas from April 24 due to military exercises until October. Shipping through the Kerch Strait will not be affected. A senior European Union official spoke of a “disturbing development”. According to him, it can be assumed that internationally agreed passage rights will be restricted.
According to Turkish sources, the United States has since canceled the planned dispatch of two warships across the Bosphorus to the Black Sea. It is said that this preceded complaints from Russia. Indeed, after the planned passage in mid-April, the ships were to remain in the Black Sea until the beginning of May.
The counselor is worried
In light of the recent deployment of Russian forces on the border with Ukraine, international concerns about further escalation are growing. In a conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Silinsky on Friday, Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her concern about the situation and called on Moscow to withdraw its troops.
For nearly seven years, pro-Moscow separatists controlled parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine. The United Nations estimates that more than 13,000 people have been killed in the fighting between the two sides. The 2015 peace plan agreed with the Franco-German mediation is pending.
jj / pg (dpa, afp, rtr)