M. Kučinskis: Firm steps must be taken against Russia’s aggression
On Thursday 13 December, Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis attended the meeting of the European Council in Brussels. The Prime Minister and the rest of the EU heads of state and government discussed the prolongation of existing sanctions against Russia and its aggression in the Azov Sea.
Having determined the lack of progress in fulfilling the obligations under the Minsk Agreement, the European Council extended the sanctions against Russia. The present term of sanctions expires on 31 January 2019 and it was prolonged for further six months. The EU sanctions were imposed in July 2014 in response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
Similarly, Latvia and several other like-minded countries ensured that the EU heads of state and government condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in the Azov Sea, which is a violation of international law.
M. Kučinskis points out that the Kerch Strait incident on 25 November cannot be seen as another Russia’s aggressive behaviour against the neighbours and another violation of the international law. This is not an accident but an episode in Russia’s broader strategy. “Russia annexed Crimea, and then started the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where there is no progress in the fulfilment of obligations under the Minsk Agreement, built the Kerch Strait Bridge and now Russia is trying to take control over the Azov Sea. We can see a series of acts of aggression where each following incident only exacerbates the security situation in Europe. Such aggressive behaviour cannot be left without adequate and strong reaction from us. Our reaction should not be limited only to announcements. Russia is examining us – the West – and observing our reaction. If we do not take firm steps now, Russia will draw conclusions and will continue its tactic towards its neighbours,” says the Prime Minister.
On 25 November this year, the vessels of the Border Service of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation carried out aggressive actions against three Ukrainian Navy ships (two armed cutters and a tugboat), which were on their way from Odessa to Mariupol. Ukraine has informed that the vessel movement was coordinated with Russia. Despite that, Russian Boarder Service vessels rammed one of the Ukrainian ships and shortly after fired upon the rest of them, resulting in several injured Ukrainian crew members. After the attack, the Russian side seized the Ukrainian ships and its crew and took them to the Port of Kerch.
Press Secretary to the Prime Minister