Aggression, provocation, blockade - what's going on in the Azov Sea

On the morning of November 25, conducting a passage from Odesa to Mariupol two small armored artillery boats (SAAB) of Gyurza-M class - Berdyansk and Nikopol' - and the Yany Kapu raid tugboat of the Ukrainian Navy were attacked by a 10-ship group of the Russian Navi consisted of Sobol-class patrol boats, the PS Izumrud and Don with involvement of aircraft (2 Ka-52, 2 Su-25 and Su-30).

What's more, the Ukrainian side had even informed the Russian side in advance about this transition, in accordance with international standards, in particular, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Treaty between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on cooperation in the use of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait.

So what was the reason for such aggressive actions of the Russian Navy and what was the invaders' goals?

Ramming is not a shelling, but a reason.

First of all, it must be noticed that the attack on the Ukrainian tug was carried out through a deliberate collision - by ramming -  and not firing from any type of small arms. That is, in fact, the Russian side can interpret this incident not as a direct aggression against a Ukrainian ship, but as an accident - an emergency, from the category “did not cope with the control.”

On the other hand, if the Ukrainian SAABs would have opened fire on the PS Don, this would be a formal reason for Russians to open a fire in response. In fact, the ram was not an attempt to stop the tug, but Russia's attempt to provoke the Ukrainian side and use this provocation further.

In turn, the Russian side from the outset reported that it was the Ukrainian Navy who resorted to provocative actions, reservedly keeping silent about the ramming of the tugboat of a Ukrainian tugboat. Ie, they were expecting for subsequent accusation from Ukrainian side.


Russia, through the construction of the “Kerch Bridge,” is implementing a project of blockade of the Azov Sea, however, the observance of international rights does not allow it to completely block the passage of ships from Ukraine and to Ukraine through the Kerch Strait. Such an incident may well be used by Russian occupiers as a formal reason for complete closure of passage through the strait. Of course, this goes against international law, but as we can see, the Russian Federation has lately repeatedly disregarded it in a quite rude manner. If the Kremlin will go to such a tough form of blockade, we'll have a region which is fit to Russia's propaganda narrative about the impoverishment of Ukraine, the collapse of the economy, etc, due to blockade the Azov key ports.

What's also worth to point out is that the zone, which depends economically on the sea routes of the Sea of Azov, coincides with the so-called “land route” from Russia to the occupied Crimea, which the Russian troops did not manage to "build" during the fierce battles of 2014-2015. Then the advance of the Russian troops was stopped at the approaches of Mariupol.

But most disturbing is that if the Russian Federation will succeed in the project on blockade of Ukraine's ports in the Sea of Azov, it will be able to switch to the blockade of Ukraine in the Black Sea in the longer term. This is a much more complicated, but, nevertheless, quite feasible plan.

Against the background of this new stage of Russia's aggression against Ukraine we can observe significant activation of the so-called Kremlin trolls in social networks, who manipulate and inflate hysteria round the imposition of martial law in the number of regions of Ukraine. Same manipulations and hysteria about the matter comes from the so-called "opposition" in the parliament - Moscow talking heads in fact - who against the background of upcoming elections impose opinions into the masses that the only way to gain peace is to surrender and accept the Moscow's demands. Clearly, Ukraine enters another stage of confrontation. In such situation the nation must keep mind clean, avoid hysteria and maintain cohesion. Worth nothing, that few years ago, the nationalists-veterans had been publicly emphasized the possibility of such blockade so as the need to develop the fleet paying more attention to middle and heavy boats instead of small patrol ones.