Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 26, 2018

Russia Blocks Ukrainian Navy From Militarizing The Sea of Azov - Updated

Originally posted Nov 25: 18:00 utc - Updated below on Nov. 26, 6:00 utc

The Ukrainian government under the oligarch Petro Poroshenko is in election campaign mode. That is one reason why it is launching new provocations against Russia. Yesterday Ukrainian forces reportedly occupied a town within the neutral zone between the government controlled part and the rebel held Donetsk area. Today the Ukrainian navy sent a tug and two small gun boats, recently acquired from the U.S. Coast Guard, Ukrainian build Gurza-M class types, to pass through the Kerch Strait into the Sea of Azov.

When the ships entered Russian waters without announcing their intent, a Russian coast guard ship rammed (vid) and damaged the tug. The two gun boats escaped but did not pass the strait. The pictures show the melee at sea. 



With Crimea back in Russian hands, the Kerch Strait is solely Russian territorial water. The Treaty on the Legal Status of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait, signed in 2003 by Russia and the Ukraine, provides that military ship entry into the sea is only allowed with mutual consent. Ukraine disputes the status of the sea in an arbitration court. (For a legal discussion of the case see 1, 2, 3.)

The Ukrainian government, urged on by the U.S., wants to establish a new military harbor in the Sea of Azov. Two of its navy ships, a rescue vessel and a tug, passed through the street on September 23. In October the Russian government warned that it will not allow any further militarization of the sea. Some U.S. hawks even want NATO ships to enter the Sea of Azov. The Sea of Azov has a maximum depth of 7 meters. Typical U.S. frigates have a draft of 10+ meters. What NATO or U.S. ship could even go there? As Russia firmly controls the sole entry point into the sea and can easily attack any ship in the Sea of Azov from within its borders the idea is incredibly stupid.

The Kerch Strait is now blocked by a large cargo ship the Russians anchored under the new Kerch bridge.


The passage is closed and a number of ships are bunched up on both sides.

Pic via MarineTraffic of traffic at 15:45 utc - bigger

The Ukrainian provocation may well be aimed to sour the meeting between President Trump and Putin that is planned for November 30 during the G20 summit in Argentina. It should be more careful. It is quite possible that Russia will block commercial traffic to the Ukrainian port of Mariupol over any further incident. The big loser of this useless provocation would then again be the Ukraine.

Update - Nov. 26, 6:00 utc

The Russian coast guard detained the three Ukrainian ships and their crews in Russian waters. They again illegally attempted to cross from the Black Sea through the Kerch Strait into the Sea of Azov. The Ukrainian side says the two of its seaman were injured.

Since Crimea voted to again become a part of Russia the Kerch Strait is Russian territorial water. Ships can pass the strait but are required to take on a pilot and to undergo inspections if the Russian coast guard demand such. The Ukrainian side understands that these are legal measures. In a report by the U.S. government outlet RFL/RE published in August the Ukrainian side admitted as much:

[The Ukrainian Sea Guard and the squadron's spokesman] Poliakov said that, while Russia's actions are "provocative," because of a controversial 2003 agreement on cooperation and shared use of the Sea of Azov and Kerch Strait, "everything Russia is doing here is technically legal."

The three Ukrainian ships tried to pass Russian waters without informing Russian authorities and without taking on pilots. Since Russia build the $3.7 billion Kerch bridge which connects Crimea with Russia, U.S. commentators and Ukrainian politicians threatened to blow up the bridge:

“The Kerch Bridge is an enemy’s infrastructure. It connects the occupied territory with the mainland of the aggressor country, that is why it is an enemy’s infrastructure,” Mosiychuk said on air of 112 Ukraine channel.

According to him, “any normal country” in a state of war strives for destroying enemy’s infrastructure. Answering a question whether he personally would destroy the bridge, he said that he would do it if he were the defense minister.

The Russians are understandably careful with any traffic near to it.

Following yesterday's incident the president of the Ukraine Pedro Poroshenko proposed to declare martial law. The parliament will have to decide on that. This is a very convenient move for Poroshenko as it will allow him to move the March 2019 general election date. Poroshenko trails in the polls with some 8% of the total vote.

Russia called for a UN Security Council emergency meeting which will be held at today at 11:00am EST. The passage through the Kerch Strait is again open for civil vessels.

The usual anti-Russian subject in "western" political circles use the incident to demand more measures against Russia. Fronting the effort is the weapon industry lobbying group Atlantic Council:

Anders Åslund, a resident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, said: “NATO and the United States should send in naval ships in the Sea of Azov to guarantee that it stays open to international shipping.”

Such action, Åslund said, “would be in full compliance with the UN Law of the Sea Convention of 1982 and the Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits of 1936.”

Anders Aslund is listed as member of the "U.S. & Canadian Cluster" of the secret influence operation by the British Foreign Office describe here two days ago. He is obviously unable to read a map, sea chart, or UN convention. The Ukrainian attempt to pass through the Kerch Strait without Russian consent is a breach of Article 7, 19 and 21 of the UN Law of the Sea Convention (pdf):

Article 7: "Subject to this Convention, ships of all States, whether coastal or land-locked, enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea."
Article 19-1: "Passage is innocent so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State. Such passage shall take place in conformity with this Convention and with other rules of international law."
Article 21-4: "Foreign ships exercising the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea shall comply with all such [coastal state] laws and regulations and all generally accepted international regulations relating to the prevention of collisions at sea."

There will now be again a lot of noise in the media about the 'nefarious Russians' and new demands for even more useless sanctions. But the legal case is clear. It was the Ukrainian navy that willfully attempted to pass from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov through Russian territorial waters without regard to the laws and regulations of the coastal state. Russia was within its full rights to prevent the passage and to seize the Ukrainian boats.

Posted by b on November 26, 2018 at 9:44 UTC | Permalink

next page »

thanks b.. i suppose being provocative or confrontational is all that's left for ukraine...

Posted by: james | Nov 25 2018 17:35 utc | 1

"The Sea of Azov has a maximum depth of 7 meters. Typical U.S. frigates have a draft of 10+ meters. What NATO or U.S. ship could even go there?"

Maybe this would be a role for the notorious Littoral Combat Ships, which draw only about 4 metres.

Oh, whoops...

'In April 2012, Chief of Naval Operations Greenert said, "You won't send it into an anti-access area," rather groups of two or three ships are intended to be sent into areas where access is jeopardized to perform missions like minesweeping while under the cover of a destroyer. The LCS main purpose is to take up operations such as patrolling, port visits, anti-piracy, and partnership-building exercises to free up high-end surface combatants for increased combat availability.[6] Navy Secretary Ray Mabus clarified that the ship could operate in combat areas while under the protection of other warships'.

So, basically, they have ships that can go there but can't fight... and ships that can fight but can't go there.

Posted by: Tom Welsh | Nov 25 2018 17:59 utc | 2

Thanks for the more balanced reporting b then anywhere in MSM land of this event.

I agree with your connection to the coming G20 as I think the gas attack in Aleppo yesterday is/was as well.

The coming G20 should be quite interesting. Lots could happen given all we see happening around us

Posted by: psychohistorian | Nov 25 2018 18:02 utc | 3

Seems like Ukraine trying to do what Georgia, with its western supporters, tried to do in 2008.

BBC NEWS | Europe | Georgia 'started unjustified war'

Posted by: Zanon | Nov 25 2018 18:03 utc | 4

"Some U.S. hawks even want NATO ships to enter the Sea of Azov. The Sea of Azov has a maximum depth of 7 meters. Typical U.S. frigates have a draft of 10+ meters. What NATO or U.S. ship could even go there?"

Ha ha, that sure is typical of neocon chickenhawks. They babble insanely in favor of war but are utterly ignorant of even the most elementary facts about any technology or place or situation.

Posted by: Russ | Nov 25 2018 18:10 utc | 5

The once called Ukraine country is losing daily. Population is fast approaching 30 million people, down from mid 50's, economy is basically non existent, ordinary people are starving, freezing and have become the poorest in all Europe, while oligarchs like Porky continue to play games of grandeur and power. The people living in the once called Ukraine must fight back, there is no salvation from politicians, they must take control of the country or soon it will be a wasted land.
2019 will be a very tough year for the once called Ukraine, it is very likely Russia will not renew the gas transit contract, meaning less income for Kiev's regime, Donbass may finally take its future to the next step and get closer to Russia while the rest of the once called Ukraine will see many pockets of rebellion and civil war, very bad omen for the once called Ukraine in 2019.

Posted by: Canthama | Nov 25 2018 18:19 utc | 6

The Russians should dare the Americans to send an aircraft carrier into the Sea of Azov, preferably the Gerald R. Ford.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Nov 25 2018 18:19 utc | 7

FSB showed a video of the chase of the Russian border guards for the ships of the Ukrainian Navy - video here.

Posted by: alaff | Nov 25 2018 18:34 utc | 8

I have been observing the situation in the Sea of Azov for a while. It all started out with the Ukraine confiscating a Crimean fishing boat. Next step was threatening to cancel the contract between the Ukraine and Russia on the use of the Sea of Azov. With out the contract the Sea of Azov would become an international water. I am pretty sure there is a NATO plan being followed as not to long ago the UK war minister demanded access to the Sea of Azov and last week Mogherini from the EU was treathening new sactions if Russia would not change its position concerning the Sea of Azov. I am sure this treath was not something Kiev was willing to ignore an pass a chance to provoke Russia once again - maybe thus today provocation.

What I find interessting is the silence in the western MSM.

Posted by: Fran | Nov 25 2018 18:48 utc | 9

Yesterday Ukrainian forces occupied a town within the neutral zone between the government controlled part and the rebel held Donetsk area.

By the way, in the LPR they denied the information of the Ukraine's Armed Forces about the "capturing" of a settlement in the Donbass.

"The statement of the headquarters of Operation Combined Forces of Ukraine on the "capture" of a settlement in the Donbass is not true. This settlement has been under their control before" - this was stated by the Acting Head of the People’s Militia of the LPR, Mikhail Filiponenko. According to him, such statements of the Ukraine's Armed Forces speak about the desire to demonstrate the “essence of the Ukrainian command”, which wants to exaggerate its merits before the visit to the Donbass of the presidents of Ukraine and Latvia.


Posted by: alaff | Nov 25 2018 18:53 utc | 10

Has Poroshenko taken a leaf out of Erdogan's 'Safety First' book and sacked/suspended all the senior military officers with more than half a brain? Or has Ukraine's military always been as eeriy inept as the US Military?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 25 2018 19:06 utc | 11

There are height limits for ships passing under the Kerch Bridge, and the Azov Sea is a shallow body of water, so deep draught ships are not capable of using or cruising the Azov.

Why would the Ukies and US and NATO try to bully their way into the Azov pocket when the Russians have a powerful Black Sea Fleet and coastal weapons, Air Force and drones from the Southern Military District seconds away?

To force more sanctions on Russia. The Hybrid War continues . . .

Posted by: Red Ryder | Nov 25 2018 19:09 utc | 12

Russia Opened Fire on Ukrainian Naval Ships in Kerch Strait - Ukrainian Navy

The Ukrainian gun boats tried again to come into the Kerch Strait. Russian ship fired, Ukrainian ship fired back. It is likely that the Russians will enter the ships and confiscate them.

Posted by: b | Nov 25 2018 19:14 utc | 13


All three Ukrainian military vessels have lost engine power after being fired on. All three were boarded by Russian special forces. Two Ukrainian sailors were injured.

No sure where exactly this happened. Likely within Russia's 12 mile zone. If not it is a serious incident that needs further justification.

Posted by: b | Nov 25 2018 19:43 utc | 14

russia has to take a firm hand here.. thanks b..

Posted by: james | Nov 25 2018 19:50 utc | 15

Translated into Serbian:
Месец Алабаме: Улога кокошије памети у украјинском покушају милитаризације Азовског мора —

Posted by: Александар Јовановић | Nov 25 2018 20:09 utc | 16

Crimea's governor places blame squarely where it belongs:

"I am sure Western patrons of the Kiev regime are behind this provocation - it doesn’t look a mere coincidence that European and American politicians have been so concerned over the situation in the Sea of Azov in the recent months. Ukraine, as a country stripped of sovereignty and being under external governance, is an instrument for whipping up international tensions."

His description of what sort of "state" Ukraine's become is 100% spot-on, and Canthama's description of conditions for civilians is also correct. Many towns have had gas supplies cut off completely in what's known as Warming Season, and their citizens are literally freezing.

As for the upcoming G-20, the spectacle of MbS confronting Erdogan outshines any Putin-Trump sideline meet, IMO. Indeed, there really isn't any reason for Trump to even show, except maybe as the referee between an bin-Salman/Erodogan wrestling match.

Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 25 2018 20:11 utc | 17

Just waiting to hear that the Ukie crews have defected to Russia. They were very lucky the Russians seem to have a good sense of humor about these provocations. It would be sad for Russia to have to expend some of its new missiles to end this charade.

Posted by: DougDiggler | Nov 25 2018 20:12 utc | 18

Obvious provocations, you dont just move these navy boats in these waters, this is directed from top level in Ukraine.

As some people already said, it is probably to cause damage to the Trump/Putin meeting or even bigger, there are information from Ukraine now that RUssia have seized or fired at boats. Just what Ukraine wanted to happen.

It is reckless behavior by ukraine but as usual west will back this crazied regime no matter what against "evil" Russia.

Posted by: Zanon | Nov 25 2018 20:32 utc | 19

There were five Uke ships. The three that tried to enter the Sea of Azov from the Black sea have been neutralized and the other two on the inside turned tail and headed back to Berdyansk. There is also a report of heavy shelling in the Donbass region. (Heavy in the sense of heavy artillery as well as quantity.)

Posted by: stonebird | Nov 25 2018 21:16 utc | 20

7. Ghost ship A aircraft carrier can't operate by the Montreux Convention.
CIA approved wiki

Posted by: Col from OZ | Nov 25 2018 22:13 utc | 21

Hat's off for the prompt reporting during a weekend, b.

Posted by: bjd | Nov 25 2018 22:28 utc | 22

Col from OZ @ 21: True but the Montreux Convention would not stop US navy personnel from being aboard a Bulgarian or Romanian warship and directing its operations, ostensibly to "assist" and "support" the Ukrainians.

Posted by: Jen | Nov 25 2018 22:31 utc | 23

Canthama @ 6, Karlof1 @ 17:

Add to the shutdown of natural gas supplies to towns and cities around Ukraine (with the consequent closure of schools, universities and even hospitals) the possible shutdown of water supplies and the looming collapse of water pipeline and sanitation infrastructure.

Ordinary people not just facing starvation and freezing but also the lack of clean drinking water.

Posted by: Jen | Nov 25 2018 22:41 utc | 24

Porky will declare marshal law over this?? The Rada has to approve.

Posted by: the pessimist | Nov 25 2018 22:55 utc | 25

Now we know why this happened: Ukrainian president will propose declaring martial law after sea clash with Russia

Posted by: Snorko | Nov 25 2018 23:03 utc | 26

Russia says You'd better think twice. The Azov provocation and increased Donbas shelling were planned to coincide. As Jen @24 adds, the situation there is indeed dire for commonfolk. However, Ukies tire of waiting and want war to result.

Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 25 2018 23:13 utc | 27

I'm taking issue with your assertion that those boats were supplied from the US Coast Guard. They're Gurza-M patrol boats built in the Ukraine in the 2000s, according to Jane's.

So the Ukrainians piloted a tanker out underneath a bridge crossing this strait in the Sea Of Azov that forms a choke point for shipping.

The Ukrainians and Russians then began playing chicken with each other, moving in and out of international, Ukrainian and (nominally) Russian-controlled waters with these small craft that the US Navy doesn't really have a direct analog to.

Essentially this is like what we're doing with the Iranians, but here both sides are in upgunned cigarette boats. Eventually the balloon went up.

Posted by: Ben | Nov 25 2018 23:24 utc | 28

@26 Snorko

Thanks for that link - didn't work for me, so here it is again:

Posted by: Grieved | Nov 25 2018 23:28 utc | 29

Weren't they Gurza M Ukrainian patrol boats and not the US Island class they acquired this year?

Posted by: Rufus | Nov 25 2018 23:29 utc | 30

Perhaps Porky (or his handlers) concluded that he needs martial law to keep the people down maintain power, but he wouldn't be doing himself any favors my admitting it outright. Instigating a provocation with Russia would give him the excuse he needs.

Posted by: Timothy Hagios | Nov 25 2018 23:35 utc | 31

The lying shits at the Atlantic Council are putting out their usual crap comparing this with "Russia's war on Georgia" - I seem to recall that the EU stated it was Georgia's war on Russia. Does this mean we're going to see more garbage from Bellingcat?

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Nov 26 2018 0:11 utc | 32

TH @31--

Begging the question: How many Ukrainians are genuinely fooled by this provocation?

Poroshenko wants to declare martial law as a way to avoid upcoming presidential elections is a widely shared opinion on Twitter.

Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 26 2018 0:11 utc | 33

So it appears the video was taken from the Russian boat which rammed the Ukraine boat. Why would the Russians release it? Stories dont get as much play without video. Obviously a false flag to declare martial law and help out at the polls or even delay/influence upcoming elections.

Posted by: Pft | Nov 26 2018 0:13 utc | 34

Under international law Kiev is allowed access to the Sea of Azov thorough its' port city of Mariupol. However, just like the straits of Hormuz Russia still has the 12 mile territoriality around its' coast so the current ship incursion into Russia's territory is clearly a provocative action by Ukraine. No doubt Ukraine believe that the current NATO wargames will dissuade the Russian from making a firm response (a dubious theory at best, especially since it now appears that the Russians have seized several of the offending vessels). Unhappily, it appears that Russia made a mistake when it forced the Donetsk troops to stop their advance to take Mariupol back in 2015/2016 as part of the peace settlement as Kiev's possession of Mariupol (and the resulting right of access into the Sea of Azov), makes it a weeping wound that Kiev can salt whenever it feels like provoking a timely crisis (It's just been announced that Poroshenko has used the ship incident to declare marshal law throughout Ukraine - this could lead to all sorts of situations; a new attack on the separatists, delaying the upcoming elections, cracking down on his political enemies/rivals, etc...)

Posted by: Kadath | Nov 26 2018 0:19 utc | 35

Timothy Hagios @ 31: The declaration of martial law (with no end date) means that Presidential elections in 2019, which Porky Pig would be certain to lose to the equally loathsome Yulia Tymoshenko, can be deferred indefinitely. Must be tempting for Porky Pig to approve that.

And indeed he has!

Coming soon to a blog near us ... all Ukrainians being subjected to a compulsory military draft:

Posted by: Jen | Nov 26 2018 0:23 utc | 36

Re: @32, Actually comparing this event to the 2009 Russian-Georgian seems quite appropriate, just like Georgia, Kiev launched an attack on territory protected by Russian servicemen and Kiev got a bit of a whipping. now lets see if Kiev doubles down like Georgia and makes everything worse for itself, will we soon see Poroshenko eating his own tie on live television, time will tell!

Posted by: Kadath | Nov 26 2018 0:40 utc | 37

Just now, at the meeting of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko made a proposal to impose martial law in the country. Today it will be considered (and most likely accepted) at an emergency meeting of the Verkhovna Rada. Source

Anticipating his obvious loss in the upcoming presidential election, Poroshenko (read, war criminal) decided to make a reckless and dangerous provocation in the Black Sea and thereby get a “legal basis” for the introduction of martial law in the country, in which any elections are canceled.

Posted by: alaff | Nov 26 2018 0:42 utc | 38

The provocation suits the suits in the amerikan war machine, plus it helps Porky to stay in power by giving him an excuse and apparently a legal out to suspend elections. WTF writes these new improved constitutions? When a jumped up sad sack of a pol pushes martial law on the people, that is exactly the time the scuzzbag should be made to be accountable to them. A bit more of declare martial law and all bets are off, you gotta get re-approved and there would be much less of these weak, lame and totally unnecessary push comes to shove dust-ups in the ally out back. amerika who claims to be just 'holding Porky's coat' will be tossing out barbs right left and center to keep the pot boiling.

See France over the weekend. That country needs an early election now, Macron imagines he will be able to just 'tough it out' against the expressed wishes of the population, in the process overturning 250 years of political tradition which began with the fall of the Bastille, through the Paris commune and the 1968 Paris insurrection. An accepted part of french politics has been the right for people to show their dissatisfaction if a slimy pol exceeds their mandate.
He will discover how wrong he is, as even those who don't object to massive cuts in public spending, tax relief for the elite whilst hitting Joe/Jo Sh1tkicker with the heaviest taxes and charges in the EU, are seeing that destroying the rights of people to oppose tyranny bodes badly. Why, in no time at all the French will be as buggered as the englanders already are.

Heheh so much for for MUKGA (making the empire great again) thru brexit, Terri May has just given Gibraltar back to the olive oil merchants. The englanders have clung grimly to that rock after stealing it in 1713. Imagine the situation at the Sea of Azov magnified about 1000 times, the englanders used their unjustifiable occupation to exert absolute control over all movement between the mediterranean and the atlantic oceans for 300 years, I betcha May's hero Churchill wouldn't be too impressed with that heheheh.
Another week of watching a slo mo train wreck eh.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Nov 26 2018 1:26 utc | 39

Comment at the Hal Turner site from inteldrop333 at 17:59 11/25/2018

Very improtant Info appeared briefly on Russian media (before being scrubbed) that a NATO SADM, possibly a Diver deployable device, was being transported to the Kerch Straight to be used on the Crimean bridge. The device was being tracked by the Russians and they knew it had been loaded on to a Ukrainian Tug (escorted by 5 warships!! – 3 in the Black Sea, including one NATO vessel, and 2 waiting in the Sea of Azov).
This is why the Russians acted!
They never react with force and have never blockaded the Sea of Azov. Ground attack jets and Helicopter gunships, plus a warship armed with ASM and Torpedos were waiting.
This level of force would not be used just for a tug and a few old Ukrainian ships. But a tug carrying a tactical nuclear device about to bring down one of the worlds most strategic bridges, a bridge hated by NATO – as per the recent Op Ed in the ‘Washington Examiner’ (Ukraine should bomb the Crimean Bridge).
Ukraine regularly provokes Russia to little effect, but today the Rusians acted to stop a terrible event.
Ukraine is now in panic mode and there may be direct NATO intervention if the to cover this, if the Russians make this public.
The device may have come from the UK.
The UK have been psychologically preparing thier people for a war with Russia.
The SADM low-yield nuclear explosion would have brought down the bridge and melted the foundations, but looked like a conventional IED blast from above due to the underwater detonation and relatively low yeield of less than 1KT.
This was a WW3 level provocation STOPPED by the Russian FSB and SF’s!
All traces of these reports are being scrubbed as I write!

Get this out before the story is completly scrubbed.

Posted by: anti_republocrat | Nov 26 2018 1:33 utc | 40

@28, Ben

"So the Ukrainians piloted a tanker out underneath a bridge crossing this strait in the Sea Of Azov that forms a choke point for shipping."

You have this wrong. The tanker-freighter was placed there by Russian FSB coast guard to block any passage from either side. The Ukies had two boats coming from the Azov side also, beside the three from Odessa in the Black Sea.

The Kerch waters is Russian. The Bridge is Russian. Passage is controlled by Russian FSB-coast guard. This makes the Sea of Azov a Russian inland waterway in fact.

The Black Sea waters also are coastal to Russia in significant lengths including Crimea.

This is the significance of Sevastopol and Crimea to the national security of Russia. It almost fell into NATO hands. 2014 was much more than Maidan and Donbass. Crimea is one of the most strategic pieces of real estate in history and absolutely necessary to Russia Federation security.

Posted by: Red Ryder | Nov 26 2018 2:35 utc | 41

@39 "Crimea is one of the most strategic pieces of real estate in history and absolutely necessary to Russia Federation security."

Which is why Ukraine has ceased to be a viable country as Canthama says at #6. The EU doesn't want it and it isn't much use to NATO without Crimea. They can keep lobbing shells into Donbass but if they expect to see a US fleet in the Black Sea they are dreaming.

Posted by: dh | Nov 26 2018 2:53 utc | 42

anti_republocrat | Nov 25, 2018 8:33:36 PM | 38

Speaking of bridges, this inteldrop333 mope seems like just the sort of type to be interested in a couple of somewhat used bridges a cobber of mine is currently offloading at bargain prices. Currently used to connect Manhattan island to a couple of wrecked by gentrification boroughs, the bridges could easily be uplifted and moved to provide access over the moat surrounding a paranoid rightist dingbat's estate. If reality somehow slips in, then blowing the bejezuz outta the pair of em would immediately restore the fantasy.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Nov 26 2018 3:35 utc | 43


Weren't they Gurza M Ukrainian patrol boats and not the US Island class they acquired this year?

No, the Gyurza-M gunboats are stationed in Berdyansk — the gunboats that started moving from Berdyansk to Kerch, then turned back.

Gyurza gunboats were designed and built in Ukraine for Uzbekistan. Uzbeks needed a riverboat to guard their border with Afghanistan. An upgraded version, Gyurza-M, was designed for Ukrainian river guard on Danube, but Ukrainian Navy got jealous and demanded these are given to them. They are basically non-functional at sea, even in the shallow Sea of Azov, as the arms which were taken directly from land armed vehicles are constantly malfunctioning in humid, salty environment of the sea. Targeting also does not work properly as the boats are too light and unstable.

The Gyurza-M gunboats were built at the Kiev ship-building plant "Kuznya na Rybal'skom" (formerly "Leninskaya Kuznya"), owned until very recently by Pyotr Poroshenko. Poroshenko sold it on November 15 (just 10 days ago) for $300m to another Ukrainian oligarch Sergei Tigipko. The timing is very suspicious. Perhaps Poroshenko feared Gyurza-M might get sunk in the coming operation, hurting the plant's valuation? But Gyurza-M is only a small part of the plant's business. Why did he sell it, then?

Posted by: S | Nov 26 2018 3:47 utc | 44

Canada's foreign minister Freeland describes this incident as "Russian aggression", and this should be the theme at the UN Security Council tomorrow.

Posted by: jayc | Nov 26 2018 3:59 utc | 45

The heroic team of Ollie Richardson and Angelina Siard are on overtime right now translating Russian news and analysis, and - courtesy of their translation at StalkerZone - here's a timely message from Russian Senator Valery Kulikov:
Russian Senator Valery Kulikov: We Will Oust Ukrainian Ships in the Same Way We Ousted the US Navy in 1988

The piece is wonderful in its own right, but also carries the distinction of displaying the YouTube video of the Russian Navy ramming a vessel of the US Navy off the coast of Crimea in 1988.

Quoted from the report:

"Kulikov specified that he was a direct participant of the events of 1988, when the Russian Black Sea Fleet forced out American combat ships – the Yorktown guided missile cruiser and the Caron destroyer – from the territorial waters off the coast of Crimea."


Poking the bear has always produced the same result, regardless of the fashion of the time.

And always will, as the youngsters at NATO would do well to learn.

Posted by: Grieved | Nov 26 2018 4:00 utc | 46

Interesting, points #8 and #9

Martial law in Ukraine means the following:

1 In the event that martial law is introduced, able-bodied citizens have a labor duty for the purpose of performing work of a defensive nature.

2 A curfew on the territory where martial law is imposed.

3 A specific regime of entrance and exit.

4 Verification of documents, examination of things, vehicles, and so forth.

5 Martial law allows the state to control the activity of the media, cultural institutions, and printing houses.

6 Natural persons and legal persons are obliged to provide space for quartering of military personnel should the need arise.

7 The military command can ban the activity of parties and public organizations if they threaten security, territory, the independence of the country, or the life of citizens.

8 It is impossible to dismiss the parliament or to announce the impeachment of the president in a state of martial law. This also applies to most ministers, judges, the prosecutor’s office, and local governments.

9 Martial law will also allow to cancel diplomatic agreements with the enemy and to seize the property of the aggressor that is on the territory of Ukraine.

Posted by: the pessimist | Nov 26 2018 4:20 utc | 47

... lets see if Kiev doubles down like Georgia and makes everything worse for itself, will we soon see Poroshenko eating his own tie on live television, time will tell!
Posted by: Kadath | Nov 25, 2018 7:40:50 PM | 36

Good comparison. Porky is already branded as approximately as stupid as Sakashvili. Just going along with a half-assed Yankee scheme is all the proof required.
Imo the tables have already been turned on Porky. He's obviously forgotten that Sako thought he had US/NATO backing for his SNAFU in Georgia. Putin, on the other hand, was far less ambiguous and US/NATO chickened out. Putin won't back down and US/NATO can't afford a humiliating confrontation with Russia, in Russia's back yard.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 26 2018 4:32 utc | 48

@42 jayc

The theme at the UNSC session, which Russia convened, will be “Maintenance of international peace and security” as the sole item on its agenda.

I'm not very technical but one assumes that Russia can supply radar, satellite, video, radio logs - everything that is incontrovertible in maritime matters - to show that Ukraine was the rogue actor in this case. And since Ukraine has previously followed the lawfully mandated, standard procedures for entering this sea, it has no leg to stand on for its deviant behavior.

Having said that, if UNSC wants to play to the western hegemon and not give RF satisfaction, this will please Canadian slaves like Freeland, but it won't sit well with the world. The days of UN supremacy in advancing US interests are coming to an end, or over, depending which lens you want to use. Either way, the UN has a future that the world wants and needs, but it will have to come up to grade and perform to standard.

The world could replace the UN but the cost is not something anyone wants to take on today. But it continues to be the UN on trial tomorrow, as well as one rogue - and failing - member nation. The loss to Russia of a dismissal from the UN would be negligible, but the loss to the UN would be huge.

Posted by: Grieved | Nov 26 2018 4:42 utc | 49

In response to #34, "Why would the Russians release video of the ramming?"

Regarding the so-called ramming, it would appear from watching the video that the tug was attempting to ram the Russian ship rather than the opposite as most are reporting.

Observe the wake of the tug. White water indicates the amount of propeller power being applied. The tug first cuts power in front of the Russian ship, but not totally as there is still a small amount of churn in the wake. Possibly reverse power to turn the bow of the tug towards the Russian ship. The Russian ship appears to attempt to steer to the right of the tug. The tug then appears to apply power to advance towards the Russian ship. Seeing that collision is inevitable, the Russian ship then turns to the left to meet the tug bow-to-bow. This encounter would seem to be totally the fault of the Ukrainian tug and seems to have been a deliberate action to cause the collision.

This interpretation would explain why the Russian ship would release the video to the world. In their opinion, the video would clearly show that the Russian ship was attacked by the tug.

Posted by: t | Nov 26 2018 4:48 utc | 50

The Pessimist @ 45:

Point 1 means that all able-bodied citizens will be subject to a compulsory military draft.

Points 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 mean that Ukraine effectively becomes a police state and a state at war as well.

Point 8 means that Presidential elections in 2019 can be deferred indefinitely and Poroshenko can be President for life if he so desires. Former PM Julia Tymoshenko can shriek all she likes at being denied the opportunity, post-2019, to lead a march on Moscow with AK-47 in hand and personally gun down Vladimir Putin.

Point 9 means that Minsk I and Minsk II agreements are now dead and buried, if indeed they were ever alive during the time they should have been complied with by Ukraine.

Posted by: Jen | Nov 26 2018 4:50 utc | 51

Porky may try postponing elections but it's irrelevant.

Porky has no support and no powerbase in Ukraine and will soon be gone.

Porky is all but finished as a politician. Porky is an irrelevant irritant.

Posted by: Julian | Nov 26 2018 4:56 utc | 52

This interpretation would explain why the Russian ship would release the video to the world. In their opinion, the video would clearly show that the Russian ship was attacked by the tug.
Posted by: t | Nov 25, 2018 11:48:34 PM | 48

There are also long-standing international laws of navigation which, if observed, allow instant resolution of a potential collision event by either/both skippers.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 26 2018 5:05 utc | 53

Jen@49, I understand the english as written, what interested me was the fact that the parliament can't be dismissed (8) and that Ukraine still has quite a few agreements with Russia that are in force, like the arrangements about the Sea of Azov and probably quite a few more. I don't believe Russia is a party to the Minsk agreements - just the DPR and LPR - but I suppose they could be considered officially/formally dead if the Donbass region is included. It isn't clear if the whole country will be included or just some regions in marshal law is actually declared. The Ukrainian line is that Russia attacked Ukrainian naval vessels and is the enemy for the purpose of the declaration.

Why now, right now? Gas shortages and no heat in cities at the onset of winter and the danger of civil unrest? The emergency would have to be extended if he wants to postpone elections. Are there some internal problems (beyond the obvious ones) that require the suspension of civil rights, or has the US delivered some kind of ultimatum?

Posted by: the pessimist | Nov 26 2018 5:11 utc | 54

Interesting info on ADM. possibly used on 9/11? Atomic Demolition Munitions

If worst came to worst, the Army's atomic engineers planned to deny advancing forces the use of friendly infrastructure by destroying allied bridges, tunnels, and dams. Railroad yards, power plants, airports -- all were ripe targets for preemptive nuclear destruction.

But the Army wanted a more proactive nuclear role as well. Army partisans argued that the doctrine of massive retaliation left America unprepared for the full spectrum of conflict. Documents from the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) show that America's nuclear weapons developers were happy to support the Army's quest for tactical nukes. In 1957, according to an AEC history, Sandia Corporation President James McRae lamented that "indiscriminate use of high-yield nuclear weapons inevitably created adverse public opinion." Since the future of war lay in an "unending succession of brushfire wars, rather than large-scale conflicts," McRae recommended that "greater emphasis should be placed on small atomic weapons," which could be used in "local ground combat."

McRae's urgings paved the way for the development of the Davy Crockett, a sub-kiloton-yield nuclear rocket that could fit on the back of a jeep. In 1958, when the Army came knocking for an atomic demolition munition that could be carried by a single soldier, the AEC looked to the Crockett's lightweight Mark 54 warhead for its solution. The resulting weapon would be a smaller, more mobile version of the ADMs. The Army, though, would have to share the device with the Navy and Marine Corps.

The AEC's final product -- the B-54 Special Atomic Demolition Munition -- entered the U.S. arsenal in 1964. It stood 18 inches tall, encased in an aluminum and fiberglass frame. It rounded to a bullet shape on one end and had a 12-inch-diameter control panel on the other. According to an Army manual, the weapon's maximum explosive yield was less than 1 kiloton -- that is, the equivalent of a thousand tons of TNT. To protect the bomb from unauthorized use, the SADM's control panel was sealed by a cover plate secured by a combination lock. Glow-in-the-dark paint applied to the lock allowed troops to unlock the bomb at night.

As Soviet forces advanced into such countries as West Germany, the SADMwould allow Special Forces units (dubbed "Green Light" teams) to deploy behind enemy lines to destroy infrastructure and matériel. But their mission wouldn't have been limited to NATO countries alone. What many nuclear historians don't realize is that Special Forces Green Light teams were also prepared to use SADMs on territory of the Warsaw Pact itself in order to thwart an invasion. The teams prepared to destroy enemy airfields, tank depots, nodes in the anti-aircraft grid, and any potentially useful transportation infrastructure in order to mitigate the flood of enemy armor and to allow allied air power to punch through. According to an internal report, the Army also considered burying SADMs next to enemy bunkers "to destroy critical field command and communications installations."

Navy SEALs and Army Special Forces were trained to reach their targets by air, land, and sea. They could parachute behind enemy lines from cargo planes or helicopters.

Teams specializing in scuba missions could swim the bomb to its destination if necessary3

(TheAEC built an airtight, pressurized case that allowed divers to submerge the bomb to depths of up to 200 feet.) One Special Forces team even trained to ski with the weapon in the Bavarian Alps, though not without some difficulty.

Posted by: PeacefulProsperity | Nov 26 2018 5:17 utc | 55

A short history of Poroshenko's rating:

Spring 2014: 48–50%
2015: 25%
May 2016: 14%
August 2016: 10%
Late 2016: 12–13%
2017: 15–16%
April 2018: 5%
Summer 2018: 7–8%
September 2018: 6.8%
November 2018: 6.3%

Presidential candidates' current ratings:

12.7% Yuliya Timoshenko
7.6% Vladimir Zelenskiy — comedian, actor, played Ukrainian President in popular TV series "Sluga naroda"
6.3% Pyotr Poroshenko
6.2% Anatoliy Gritsenko — former Defense Minister
5.5% Yuriy Boyko — claims to oppose nationalist agenda, but is suspected of colluding with Poroshenko to spoil opposition votes, was recently expelled from Oppozitsionnyy Blok (formerly known as Partiya Regionov)
4.9% Oleg Lyashko — clownish pseudo-populist, always selling his party votes to the highest bidder
3.7% Svyatoslav Vakarchuk — singer, leader of the legendary Ukrainian rock band "Okean Elzy"; recently went to the U.S. to study in a Yale University "leadership program" in politics
3.2% Evgeniy Muraev — opponent of nationalist agenda

Presidential candidates' current anti-ratings ("would not vote for under any conditions"):

50.2% Pyotr Poroshenko
27.3% Yuliya Timoshenko
27.2% Arseniy Yatsenyuk — one of the three "leaders" of Euromaidan, first PM under Poroshenko Administration
24.4% Oleg Lyashko
20.3% Yuriy Boyko
17.2% Vadim Rabinovich — claims to oppose nationalist agenda, recently formed an alliance with Boyko
10.1% Evgeniy Muraev
8.4% Andriy Sadovyy — Mayor of Lvov

Source: Стремится к 6% и проигрывает всем конкурентам. Что показали последние рейтинги Порошенко, — based on polling by three leading Ukrainian polling companies: KMIS, Reyting, Tsentr Razumkova.

As you can see, Poroshenko desperately needs to postpone the elections.

Posted by: S | Nov 26 2018 6:07 utc | 56

The principal point of this situation is that Ukraine requires a condition of war to get through this winter. Only war can excuse what things will be done, and must be done, to survive the starvation conditions, for those who do survive and come into another spring next year.

For Ukraine, this is all that matters. For its nominal leader, this is all that can save him. For the west and the rest of the world, this is all irrelevant.

For the dead, we can only offer our prayers.

Posted by: Grieved | Nov 26 2018 6:31 utc | 57

@54 the pits of slime. A tragic farce. Yukies are happily blaming Russia for the incident on BBC.

Posted by: the pessimist | Nov 26 2018 6:31 utc | 58

Every time the yanks and or brits pull a stunt like this, I'm reminded of this movie scene. Saloon keeper being the yanks and Bud Spencer Russia

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Nov 26 2018 6:32 utc | 59

Posted by: S | Nov 26, 2018 1:07:30 AM | 54
(Ukrainian election candidate popularity ratings)

Lol. That's about as 'Western Democratic' as it gets...
i.e. the best Ukrainians can hope for is to wallow in the luxury of the dubious privilege of voting for the least-worst candidate?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 26 2018 6:35 utc | 60

Re: Update - Nov. 26, 6:00 utc

Excellent update, b.
The Yanks seem to be confusing naval operations with navel gazing.
It's preposterous and infantile for them to assert that Freedom of Navigation for civilian vessels can be confirmed by warships.
The only valid legal test for FoN is whether COMPLIANT civilians vessels can pass unmolested via a practical and APPROVED route through the waterway in question. China has already told them that but do they listen?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 26 2018 8:03 utc | 61

@Rufus: I apologize for causing confusion with my comment #44. Actually, the two gunships that approached from the North (and later turned back) and the two gunships that approached from the South (and were detained by Russian Coast Guard) — all four of these are Gyurza-M. Ukraine has six Gyurza-M in total: 2 entered service in December 2016, 4 entered service in July 2018.

Posted by: S | Nov 26 2018 8:45 utc | 62

re Debs 39

See France over the weekend. That country needs an early election now, Macron imagines he will be able to just 'tough it out' against the expressed wishes of the population,
It wasn't quite as Debs supposes. All the demonstrators I saw interviewed were right-wing, and the violence came from a group of casseurs, who were Front National-supporting fascists. In fact the movement of gilets jaunes is a manifestation of populism, much like Brexit and Trumpery.

Posted by: Laguerre | Nov 26 2018 9:03 utc | 63

Two things of interest: last week UK demanded access to the sea of Azov for its own or Nato's ships so this is the follow up, I guess.

moreover, Anders Aaslund, mentioned in the comments herein before, in his youth used to belong to the most hard core Nazi-organisation in Sweden after the war and is an inveterate Russia-hater (from childhood/upbringing) - suppose he cleaned up his act before joining the foreign office and so on and so forth and almost managed to help steal Russia's vast wealth when he for some reason was chosen to shape the privatization of Russia's wealth under Jeltsin!

Posted by: viktor last | Nov 26 2018 9:17 utc | 64

U.S. media seem to hang the incident pretty low. On the NYT homepage it ranks behind global warming, U.S. border, Brexit. Likewise at the Washington Post. Are the hawks in the White House and Pentagon still asleep or did they decide to not push the issue?

Posted by: b | Nov 26 2018 10:22 utc | 65


It seems the bear's raised its paw ready to strike in anger. If so, then any further provocation of some magnitude from the war hawks might yield a massive onslaught on Ukrainian and allied forces, which they don't feel to be sufficiently prepared for as of yet.

Posted by: Hmpf | Nov 26 2018 10:45 utc | 66

This incident should alay any doubts that Russia will act decisively in the case of any breach of protocol or law, regarding Crimea and the Sea of Azov.
I'm very pleased b's on this with that update.

Posted by: V | Nov 26 2018 10:49 utc | 67

An important detail is that all the MSM coverage talks about the incident as having happened in the Azov sea. WTF? It happened in the Black sea, on the approach to the Azov, but not in the Azov for sure.

Also, the Ukrainians were very keen on insisting that the boats were impounded outside Russia's 12-mile territorial waters, which is funny since the Ukies supposedly do not recognize Crimea as Russian :D

Another thing regarding the martial law proposal (which is to be debated and voted on by the Ukr Parliament starting today at 16:00 Ukie time) - if they really intend to start a mobilization, do you imagine what an economic coup de gras on the Ukie economy this will be? The able-bodied male population will rush to the borders in an instant. Just equipping and sustaining the mobilized recruits will drain very quickly what is left in the state coffers. And the IMF "help" will come under serious question as they are supposed not to lend in countries in war (not sure about martial law).

And a funny side note came from the moment when one of the boats was about boarded - over the radio the Ukie captain spoke in pidgin broken Ukrainian all the time - and when the Russians started shooting he began shouting that his boat is sinking and crying for help in his mother tongue ... Russian ... :D:D:D


Posted by: BG | Nov 26 2018 11:08 utc | 68

they say psychopaths can't play good chess 'cause they have low impulse control.

combined with low IQs you're sure to get a comedy of errors…

black though it may be.

Posted by: john | Nov 26 2018 11:16 utc | 69

The Russian "liberals" — Alexey Navalny, Roman Dobrokhotov, Marat Guelman, Maxim Katz and others — are now all simultaneously claiming on Twitter that "Putin has organized this provocation to help his falling rating". Well, Poroshenko's electoral rating is 6.3% as of November 13 and the Ukrainian presidential elections are due in 4 months. Meanwhile Putin's approval rating is 66% as of October and he has already been re-elected 8 months ago for another 6 years. Now who's in need of a "patriotic" rating hike? I guess Russian "liberals" don't respect their subscribers at all.

Posted by: S | Nov 26 2018 11:32 utc | 70

The legal case is not as b presents it. Though not a lawyer, my understanding is that neither Ukraine nor most of the world accepts Crimea as Russian territory. In other words, Ukraine is generally considered as much of a coastal state (for the purposes of UN Law of the Sea Convention in connection to the Kerch straight) as is Russia. From Ukraine's perspective, ukrainian ships do not have to comply with regulations reserved for foreign ships only.

Posted by: s | Nov 26 2018 11:37 utc | 71

Re: s | Nov 26, 2018 6:37:50 AM | 71

Irregardless of the legal situation around the strait, every vessel that wants to pass through it must announce its intentions well in advance, take a pilot and then pass the strait. This is non-negotiable SOP and is done for the safety of the waterway, the other ships and the several-billion dollar bridge above (and the passengers and cargo on it). That's the way two Ukrainian vessels passed the strait two months ago (although they initially didn't want to follow the procedure, they eventually had to, and even paid the regular passage an pilot fees to the Russian marine and pilot service, which caused quite a stir in the Ukie press, haha).

For example - if a ship which is too high and may crash into the bridge, or a vessel, which has а draft exceeding the safe limits of the waterway (the whole Azov is with average depth of 7 meters - way too shallow) and may get stranded inside, wants to pass through - whose responsibility is it to say "go" or "no go"? The Ukies may pretend that the bridge does not exist (the best, but costliest MOSFILM production yet), so let them pass through, shall we???

If they had followed the rules, there was a big chance they would have been let through. I followed the "drama" in real time yesterday, starting from the morning, and despite the lag in information coming through and the usual twisted "truth" coming from the Ukrainian side, it was obvious from the beginning that the intention was provocation - the rush to the Kerch, violating Russian territorial waters on the way through, the "ramming" (which was presented in the Ukie media as an epic battle with insurmountable damage on the Russian ship) to the attempt of a breakthrough of the strait, successfully preempted by the dry bulker placed under the bridge.

The provocateurs may have been satisfied that shots were finally fired, but the picture of the boats at the port doesn't show any damage, so the provocation proved pretty shallow at the end.

And can you imagine the psychological condition of the crew? Being sent with a one-way ticket to bolster Poroshenko's non-existent rating or if getting injured or killed (the bloodier, the better) cause international uproar. Who in their right mind will follow this guy's orders next time? I don't think that "We won't forget you while you perish in a Russian prison" would work anymore...


Posted by: BG | Nov 26 2018 12:10 utc | 72

"Anders Aslund is listed as member of the "U.S. & Canadian Cluster" of the secret influence operation by the British Foreign Office.... He is obviously unable to read a map, sea chart, or UN convention."

The moral and intellectual midgets like Anders Aslund live by feigning an ignorance of international law. This is the only venue for them to earn a living, otherwise they are useless.

Meanwhile, the superior scum of deciders in the US and the UK have united their forces against an honest and principled journalist kept as a political prisoner in an Ecuadorian embassy in the City-ruled UK:

"Every story you see about Assange’s plight in mainstream media now goes out of its way to drag the focus away from the fact that a political prisoner has had his important voice silenced..."

Posted by: Anya | Nov 26 2018 12:41 utc | 73

Posted by: s | Nov 26, 2018 6:37:50 AM | 71
(not many countries accept Crimea as Russian territory)

Commenting as an individual with legal credentials comparable with your own, there aren't many precedents for what the population of Crimea sought via a 90%+ YES referendum. i.e. a desire to retain and declare the Russian nationality they lost when Crimea became part of the breakaway Fake Country known as Ukraine without consultation or consent.
So that's a legal snag, right there.
It should also be remembered that the power of "Democracy", in its purest form, resides in the Will Of The People. Therefore, it follows that any Democracy which refuses to recognise the Will Of The People of Crimea is NOT a champion of democracy (in its purest form).

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 26 2018 12:58 utc | 74

Laguerre | Nov 26, 2018 4:03:40 AM | 63

Yep legurre I'm well aware the yellow jackets are being led by rightists but that doesn't change anything, people have a right to protest whatever side of the speaker their leaders sat once upon a time. French people are pissed at Macron's introduction of yet another fuel charge which Macron claims is for environmental reasons - except the austerity package he pushed thru earlier cuts funding to alternative energy sources so in reality this is just another imposition on an already over taxed population.
Taxes are necessary yep but in the last couple of decades across the world neolibs have made services everywhere get cut, yet tax rates for the ordinary person increase - how does that work?
Nothing wrong with taxes is administered fairly this is anything but that since it hits the average person with yet another impost while Macron fails to hit the corporates whose heavy transport causes a bulk emmissions and chews up roads.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Nov 26 2018 13:17 utc | 75


“.……..Since Crimea voted to again become a part of Russia the Kerch Strait is Russian territorial water………”


“.……….United Nations General Assembly Resolution 68/262 was adopted on March 27, 2014 by the sixty-eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly in response to the Russian annexation of Crimea and entitled "Territorial integrity of Ukraine". The non-binding resolution, which was supported by 100 United Nations member states, affirmed the General Assembly's commitment to the territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders and underscored the invalidity of the 2014 Crimean referendum………”
Only 11 countries voted in support of the criminal act by Russia to annex Crimea.  The construction of the bridge was illegal as is calling the Strait of Kersh the territorial waters of Russia (which is part of the illegal annexation). A joint statement by the President of Ukraine and the President of the Russian Federation reads in part (Bulletin 54 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea - the UN 2003):
Ukrainian and Russian military ships and trade boats enjoy the freedom of navigation in the Sea of Azov and the Straight of Kerch;

Military ships under the flag of other states can enter the Sea of Azov and go through the Straight of Kerch only by an invitation of Ukraine or Russia agreed with the other state;

So Russia is preventing navigation of the Straight of Kerch and the Sea of Azov based on the agreement between the Russian Federation and Ukraine. This is another agreement broken by Russia to go along with numerous broken treaties from the illegal invasion and annexation of Crimea. It has nothing to do with self determination.

Posted by: craigsummers | Nov 26 2018 13:26 utc | 76

As for the legal technicalities, it's rich that US neocons and their poodles elsewhere are blathering about the Law of the Sea, given that the US is one of the few countries which has refused to ratify it, precisely because they prefer Might Makes Right and don't want any legalistic restraints on their aggression.

Posted by: Russ | Nov 26 2018 13:39 utc | 77

On November 7, Ukrainian PM Vladimir Groysman has signed a directive on the evacuation procedures under martial law (official government document in Ukrainian; use Google Translate or Yandex Translate). This proves that the introduction of martial law was pre-planned and not an impromptu reaction to supposedly unforeseen Russian actions.

Posted by: S | Nov 26 2018 13:42 utc | 78

I cannot help but wonder if the graun will leave this article up and untouched for long.
It is about the englander spy imprisoned for life last week that Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan sprung on Monday.
The article includes details of the video taped confession the spy made which will be put up for a while but then typically disappears down a memory hole, even tho the article has the usual perfidious englander editorialising - the bloke confessed to spying, there is no way to spin that, but the englander media will try to lull the population back to sleep. Some good bits:

At a press conference on Monday, the UAE continued to insist Hedges was an MI6 agent, and played video footage showing him apparently confessing that he had been trying to discover military secrets, including about the UAE’s weapons purchases.

The UAE said a “gracious clemency was granted on Sunday in response to a letter from the Hedges family bearing in mind the historic relationship between the UAE and the UK”.

A spokesman for the UAE’s national media council said hours after Hedges’ pardon was confirmed that he had been freed.

The short video clips shown by the UAE did not provide context but showed Hedges discussing how MI6 operates in the UAE, and apparently confessing to holding the rank of captain in MI6, a position that does not exist. The clips are not being shared by the UAE for wider broadcast.

They also purported to show Hedges confessing to researching the military systems the UAE was purchasing.

The press conference began with a spokesman detailing the charges against Hedges, the seriousness of the case, and the belief that the UAE was right to have charged him.

He claimed Hedges “had sought information on the ruling families and their networks” and was seeking “to gather classified information on the UAE military and political role in Yemen”.

He said these would be considered serious threats to the national security of any country, and that the information collected went far beyond standard academic practice.

“In fact, Mr Hedges took advantage of the openness granted academic researchers in this country. We are a country that hosts branches of some of the world’s finest academic institutes and we pride ourselves in our contribution to scientific advancement and academic pursuits.”

As much as I loathe the Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan crew, it is high time that all the gulf states put their foot down on the meddling & interference england gets up to in their nation states. Doubtless the englanders threatened the web of commercial interests the UAE has in England, but the UAE knew would have known that is how it will play out so I suppose the point was to let the englanders know they meant it. Delivering the sentence 1 week before the usual mass pardons by the emir should have been the giveaway really. Rounding up all the amerikan, english, french and israeli arseholes should be SOP everywhere.

According to the spy's missus the englander embassy wasn't taking their agent's arrest seriously until he copped a life sentence - apparently that concentrated their minds. In future they will need to be much more circumspect before putting their sticky-beaks into "Johnny Arab's business"

Posted by: Debsisdead | Nov 26 2018 13:48 utc | 79

The Ukraine has no internationally recognised borders. It neglected to create them after the collapse of the USSR. Sevastopol was never transferred to the UkSSR by Krushchev in 1956. The re-integration of Crimea into the Russian Federation (the legal successor of the RFSSR) has more legality than the creation of the USA by the 13 states during the War of Insurrection against the Lawful Authority of the British Crown.

Posted by: Стивен | Nov 26 2018 13:51 utc | 80

@65 "U.S. media seem to hang the incident pretty low. On the NYT homepage it ranks behind global warming, U.S. border, Brexit. Likewise at the Washington Post. Are the hawks in the White House and Pentagon still asleep or did they decide to not push the issue?"

Maybe they've exhausted all possible sanctions? We may hear a bit more muttering about 'legality' but breaking agreements is all the rage these days.

Posted by: dh | Nov 26 2018 14:03 utc | 81

Posts #40 and #55 speculate about atomic demolition devices. At first glance this is silly, but could the Russians safely hold such an attitude? Given the Brexit situation and other issues, the Brits have been behaving like cornered rats, and I could imagine some nutcase in that nation supplying a tiny nuke to the Ukranian Nazis. Failing that, even a credible "leak" about some kind of ship-based IED taking down the Kersch Bridge would need to be addressed. People tend to forget that even little boats can carry enormous amounts compared with land vehicles. In 1945 the "100 ton" test of conventional explosives calibrated the instruments for the Trinity device. I'd imagine that a small tugboat could have been loaded with considerably more than that, and the bridge would be a goner. The Russians are going to have to carefully inspect all future vessels going under Kersch bridge if they want to keep it.

Posted by: Zachary Smith | Nov 26 2018 15:37 utc | 82

From Åslund's Wikipedia entry:

"From November 1991 to January 1994, Åslund worked with Jeffrey Sachs and David Lipton as a senior advisor to the Russian reform government under President Boris Yeltsin and Acting Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar."

In other words, he contributed to the groundwork for the plunder by the Chicago Boys and other associated robbers of the RF.

Posted by: Bart Hansen | Nov 26 2018 15:50 utc | 83

Another reporting masterpiece. b keeps churning out two or three or more of these articles every week and I can hardly keep up, but I sure enjoy trying. I would love to know who b is and how big a staff he/she has. Some of the commentators here are so observant, intelligent and have their own sources of information such that they are really reporters too. I think there's a revolution in journalism going on right now and MOA is leading the charge.

Posted by: Chas | Nov 26 2018 16:05 utc | 84

Is the Sea of Azov melee an attempt to put an end to the presidential elections in Ukraine ?

Posted by: Brian | Nov 26 2018 16:44 utc | 85

Martial law because your own navy broke another nations border? Yeah right.
These screams false-flag a long way for Poroshenko to postpone the election. What a messy ruler Ukraine have, wouldnt surprise me if anohter Maidan will show itself if this theory is correct about the election, perhaps the government forces will jail and silence any dissent before that protest movement could materalize though.

Posted by: Zanon | Nov 26 2018 16:51 utc | 86

@chas "would love to know who b is and how big a staff he/she has"

b is a (former) industrial engineer/IT manager in Hamburg Germany. He is the writer/editor/moderator/manager of MoA. There is no staff.

@all - the nuke to bring down the Kerch bridge rumor

IMHO that is utter nonsense. One can not hide a nuclear explosion. There will always be residues and specialist can find where/when the ammunition was made by analyzing them. By bringing down the bridge the Ukraine would also cut off ALL access to the Sea of Azov because the bridge would block the straits.

Posted by: b | Nov 26 2018 17:05 utc | 87

Well the provocations worked,
the MSM is now filled with propaganda how evil and dangerous Russia is, meanwhile Poroshenko got his martial law that may cancel the elections and is supported throughout the west.

Posted by: Zanon | Nov 26 2018 17:12 utc | 88

To all: as a little diversion, here is the impressive two-minute clip of the construction of the bridge:

Posted by: bjd | Nov 26 2018 17:27 utc | 89

@craigsummers (76)

LOL -- citing the Guardian-coopted Wikipedia!
You might as well quote the toxic The Guardian or the UK FCO or The US State Department directly.

Posted by: bjd | Nov 26 2018 17:33 utc | 90

thanks for the updates b.. i had read that yesterday, but i agree with what you say about ukraine thought of taking the bridge down.. it would close the azov sea which is not really a sea, but more like a large bay... i am not sure how deep it is at the bridge part, but i suspect not that deep.. dropping the bridge would interfere or disallow even more boat traffic then it presently does due the depth of ''azov sea..

of course the west will use this as another opportunity to saber rattle and sanction russia.. in fact, i think most people can see how their is only one response to russia and it is never any good... clearly russia has been singled out by the warmongering west and it won't stop until a decisive event happens to alter it..

@83 bart hansen.. it is interesting that jeffrey sachs has come away from the russian '''reform''' with a very different outlook then many of the others..i have heard him speak on just how wrong much of what he was involved in back in the early 90's was.. too bad he is not listened to more with regard to working with russia at this point..

here is an article from 2 years ago with him talking of where the usa is headed, if it doesn't change course.. fwiw - in the past 2 years, it definitely has not changed course..

Unthinkable: Jeffrey Sachs Warns United States Could Face Soviet-Style Collapse

original source - boston globe...

Posted by: james | Nov 26 2018 17:51 utc | 91

@ 79 Debsisdead

What does your post have to do with the subject at hand. Perhaps you posted in the wrong forum?

Posted by: Alpi | Nov 26 2018 17:53 utc | 92

@ 76. Craig Summers. Not you agane..........

Posted by: Beibdnn. | Nov 26 2018 18:37 utc | 93

Following protests in the Rada, Poroshenko's attempt to invoke 60 day martial law has failed. Opposing politicians claimed it was an attempt by him to cancel forthcoming elections. The martial law is now limited to 30 days.

Posted by: Entropy Wins | Nov 26 2018 18:49 utc | 94

Having seen some 'ramming' footage on the TV News, I'm inclined to agree with b that the Russian skipper was responsible for the collision. Since the collision looked deliberate, 'ramming' is the technically correct term although 'nudge' or 'bump' would better reflect the level of drama. The tug was virtually stationary when the side of the Russian ship's bow struck the tug's bow-padding a glancing blow which barely disturbed the tug's composure in the water. I'd be surprised if either vessel sustained damage requiring immediate repair. And if anyone on the tug was injured as a result then the injuries would be consistent with a fall after losing one's balance unexpectedly.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 26 2018 18:53 utc | 95

the pessimist @47 and Jen @51

Thanks for that.

Important info given that the provocation was apparently a false flag to justify the imposition of martial law.

And I suspect that it is not just to save Porky from an election upset. Martial law itself is a(nother) provocation.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Nov 26 2018 18:59 utc | 96

craigsummers @76

Some time back the Ukraine regime transferred several military vessels from Odessa to Mariupol. The vessels made a peaceful passge through the Kerch Strait after notifying the Russian Coast Guard of their plans. If the Ukrainian military wants to make peaceful passage, all they have to do is what they have already done.

You might also want to refer to marine safety of navigation rules. Key ones are:

i) A vessel to starboard has right of way.
ii) A larger vessel has right of way over a smaller vessel.

The small Ukrainian tug had the larger Russian vessel to its starboard (rules i and ii against it). The tug effectively cut across the bow of the larger Russian vessel and slowed down in front of it. The Russian vessel was turning away to minimise the inevitable impact arising from the deliberate actions of Ukranian captain of the tug.

Posted by: Entropy Wins | Nov 26 2018 18:59 utc | 97

Also - don't feed the house troll. Craigsummers is allowed to comment here solely for our amusement. There is no need to discuss whatever he posts.

Posted by: b | Nov 25, 2018 5:58:16 AM | 96

from the other day.... fwiw...

Posted by: james | Nov 26 2018 19:07 utc | 98

@ 93 Entropy Wins.. i had read that earlier.. thanks..

Posted by: james | Nov 26 2018 19:09 utc | 99

An interesting set of posts on the legal issues at stake. Worth checking out.

"Ukraine v Russia, passage through the Kerch strait and Sea of Azov" in three parts:

Posted by: the pessimist | Nov 26 2018 19:21 utc | 100

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