'Russian plans to block Black Sea very problematic'
German Foreign Ministry says Moscow's move to block Kerch Strait is unprecedented, contrary to international law
Germany has branded on Monday as “very problematic” the reported Russian plans to block parts of the Black Sea, which could ultimately impact access to Ukrainian ports amid mounting tensions over Moscow’s military exercises.
“Restrictions on the so-called peaceful passage through coastal waters over such a long period of time are unprecedented and very problematic under international law,” Christofer Burger, the German Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman, told journalists in Berlin.
“And as far as international waters and coastal waters of the internationally annexed Crimea are concerned, we see this as contrary to international law,” he added.
Russia, which supports separatists in eastern Ukraine, annexed Crimea in 2014.
Russian state media reported that Moscow intends to close parts of the Black Sea to foreign military and official ships for six months, which could affect access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, which is connected to the Black Sea through the Kerch Strait.
Earlier this month, more than 20 Russian warships conducted military exercises in the Black Sea, the Interfax news agency reported, citing a statement from Russia’s Black Sea fleet.
Russia has temporarily restricted the movement of foreign warships and, what it termed, “other state ships” near Crimea.
Germany and its EU allies have repeatedly expressed concerns when it comes to Russia's military buildup in recent weeks amid fears Moscow might be planning to invade eastern Ukraine.