Maritime incidents in the Sea of Azov: France and Germany express great concern [fr]
Statement by Mrs. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, chargée d’affaires a.i.
on behalf of France and Germany
Security Council - 26November 2018
In view of the commitment of the French and German authorities to resolving the crisis in Ukraine within the framework of the Normandy format, this statement is made on behalf of France and Germany.
The maritime incidents that occurred yesterday are serious and cause us great concern. As we have just heard, the Kerch Strait, the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov were the scene of violent manoeuvres yesterday that have considerably increased tensions and the risk of escalation, thereby highlighting the instability of the region. Russian forces reported that they had collided with and then seized with force three Ukrainian warships that were attempting to cross the Strait. Six Ukrainian sailors were wounded. We are aware of nothing that could justify that use of force.
As indicated this morning by our authorities, as well as the Permanent Representatives of the European members of the Security Council visiting Beijing, we express our deep concern at the actions of the past 24 hours and call on the parties to exercise the utmost restraint. France and Germany call in particular on Russia to restore and respect, in accordance with international law of the sea, the freedom of passage in the Kerch Strait, as well as the right of access to the Sea of Azov, which is currently temporarily blocked, and to act immediately to de-escalate tensions. We also call on Russia to release the detained Ukrainian seamen as soon as possible and return the seized vessels.
I wish to assure Ukraine of our solidarity and strongly reaffirm the commitment of France and Germany to full respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. Yesterday’s incidents are the direct consequence of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014, in violation of international law. In that regard, we recall that we condemned Russia’s construction of the Kerch Bridge, which contributes to depriving Ukraine of full access to its maritime areas in the Sea of Azov.
Yesterday’s serious incidents also serve to highlight the need for a lasting solution to the situation throughout eastern Ukraine. France and Germany will continue to mobilize as they have done for the past four years to calm the situation in eastern Ukraine and promote a long-term resolution of the crisis, through the Normandy format.
Let us be clear: all parties, in particular Russia, must respect the commitments they themselves have made. The full implementation of the Minsk agreements, to which both Russia and Ukraine have committed themselves, remains the only way to find a peaceful and lasting solution to this conflict, which has been going on for almost five years.
France and Germany will continue to stand by the side of the Ukrainian people scarred in recent years by the Donbas conflict and the illegal annexation of Crimea. The Council may rest assured that we will continue our efforts in this direction, within the framework of the Normandy format and in all appropriate forums.