Update 1700 UTC: Russia blocked Kerch Strait with merchant marine tanker and thus, blocked the passage for three Ukrainian ships, including unarmed tug and two small river gun boats of GURZA-Class. Russia moved to Kerch Strait Navy and CG ships and boats, sent helicopters and fighter jets. After several hours of a standoff, Russia reportedly unblocked fairway, and according to latest news (not yet confirmed), Ukrainian ships transited the Strait and entered Azov sea. Shipping via Kerch Strait nevertheless, as of 1700 UTC, remains blocked, already creating huge queues of merchant ships both in Azov and in Black seas.
According to Ukrainian Navy Command, Ukrainian ships are still waiting for Strait transit, surrounded by 8 Russian Navy ships, plus helicopters and jets. Russian military demands surrender, threatening to attack and seize Ukrainian ships with Spetsnaz team.
Russian patrol ship DON said to sustain damages when ramming Ukrainian tug, and is taking on water.
Information is very confused and changing constantly, with different sources saying different stories.
Russian military Command said that the tanker which blocked Kerch Strait “ran aground” – a lie so obvious, that it can’t be commented, it’s just a shame.
River gunboat GURZA-Class, Project 58150, displacement 38 ton, armament 30-mm gun, machine guns, grenade launcher.
Russian Navy tried to block Ukrainian Navy from entering Azov sea on Nov 25, when 2 Ukrainian Navy small gun ships BERDYANSK and NIKOPOL, and Navy tug YANA KAPU, transited Kerch Strait, while en route from Black Sea Navy Base to Ukrainian Port of Mariupol in Azov sea. Russian patrol ship DON rammed Ukrainian tug, damaging hull and superstructure, tug’s engine also sustained damages. Russia moved to Kerch Strait additional forces and for reason unknown, closed Kerch Strait under Kerch Bridge with tanker, positioning it across the fairway.
Russia said Ukrainian Navy broke into Russian territorial waters and Russian inner sea meaning Azov sea, both statements being glaring lies. A 2003 treaty between Russia and Ukraine designates the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov as shared territorial waters, free for the passage of both Navies ships. Ukraine notified Russia in due order on three ships passage, but Russia nevertheless, attacked Ukrainian ships and accused Ukraine of provocations.
According to latest news and as of 1500 UTC Nov 25, Kerch Strait is closed for all shipping, meaning that all Azov sea ports, both Ukrainian and Russian, are blocked.
On photos Russian Navy ship DON ramming Ukrainian tug; tanker blocking Kerch Strait fairway.
Stay tuned for more updates.