Reacting to the fast-changing situation in the Sea of Azov, a strategic arm of the Black Sea where Russia and Ukraine share the coastline, the S&D Group condemns the maritime escalation between both countries, calls for restraint and asks High Representative Mogherini to mediate between Moscow and Kiev to find a peaceful solution.
Already in October, the European Parliament clearly stated in the resolution adopted with the S&D Group’s support, that the construction of the Kerch Bridge in the illegally occupied Crimean Peninsula by the Russian Federation without Ukraine's consent is unacceptable and puts at risk the security of the whole region.
S&D vice-president responsible for foreign affairs Victor Boştinaru said:
"We strongly condemn the latest warlike developments in the Kerch strait and the Sea of Azov. Russia openly continues to violate international law and puts at risk the security and stability of Ukraine and the wider region. This is unacceptable and represents just another act of offense by Russia against the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
“We call for restraint on both sides, and in particular on Russia to release the seized vessels and the detained Ukrainian servicemen, abide by international law, de-escalate tensions, and ensure free and safe navigation through the Kerch strait and the Sea of Azov. We stand by Ukraine in this very difficult moment, and we reiterate our commitment for their territorial integrity and sovereignty."
S&D foreign affairs spokesperson, Knut Fleckenstein MEP, added:
“Our fundamental position is clear: Russia cannot unilaterally close the Kerch strait. The strait must be kept open to navigation, including for ships from the EU. Both parties have to respect the rules. The victims of a blockade or further escalation will be the Ukrainian and Russian people.
"We cannot underestimate the situation. Everything must be done to avert any kind of military conflict. That is why it is important that the UN Security Council discuss this matter today. We urge all parties to continue the dialogue and to de-escalate the situation. Blaming the other will not lead to a solution and therefore the talks have to be separated from the status of Crimea.
"High Representative Mogherini should mediate between Kiev and Moscow to de-escalate the situation. However, the EU can only offer its help if both sides agree to such mediation and to constructive talks."