The Kerch strait clash is an ominous development. As Moscow seeks to extend its control, solidarity is needed in the west
Russia’s attack on and seizure of Ukrainian navy ships and personnel in the Sea of Azov is an alarming escalation of an ongoing but neglected crisis. Now it has decided to charge crew members. Though Sunday’s events took people by surprise, Moscow has been attempting to destabilise Ukraine and consolidate its control of Crimea since illegally annexing it in 2014 after Ukraine’s pro-western Euromaidan protests. It has increasingly flexed its muscles at sea, particularly since the Kerch strait bridge connecting the Russian mainland to Crimea opened in May. Whatever the precise chain of events, this fits into a clear pattern.
This is the most serious development since 2014, and the first time that the Kremlin has acknowledged using force against Ukraine; no Russian proxies or “volunteers” are involved here. Neither Russia nor Ukraine want this to get out of control. But the perils are real and should be acknowledged. Low-level fighting persists in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, mostly ignored by the outside world; 10,000 people, including 3,000 civilians, have died since hostilities began in 2014. The danger of miscalculations or missteps in the Sea of Azov are real.
Link : The Guardian view on Ukraine: a forgotten crisis flares up | Editorial