Maksym Khylko, Chairman of the Board at the East European Security Research Initiative Foundation, and Senior Research Fellow at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.
PolskieRadio24.pl: We could observe escalation on the Azov Sea. The Russian navy fired and rammed three Ukrainian vessels. They have been seized by Russia, their crew have been captured and are being illegally brought to court in occupied Crimea. Russia has been accumulated its forces in the region of the Azov Sea for a very long time. It is really dangerous.
Maksym Khylko, Chairman of the Board at the East European Security Research Initiative Foundation, and Senior Research Fellow at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv: Russian attack against Ukrainian naval ships with use of fire and seizure of three ships and their crew clearly indicates that the Kremlin is not going to stop its aggressive policy after the annexation of Crimea and occupation of the certain areas of the Donbas region of Ukraine.
Russian militarisation of the Azov and the Black Seas poses danger not only to Ukraine, but to all countries of the region. Moscow bluntly violates the international law, and its shipping restrictions in the Azov Sea already caused economic losses not only for Ukrainian business entities, but also for those of the EU member states.
As far as the Russian actions in the Azov Sea region are concerned, what are the Kremlin’s aims?
The Kremlin’s aims are obvious: to maintain its military monopoly in the Azov Sea; prevent Ukraine from developing its defence capabilities on the Azov seacoast; increase economic pressure on Ukrainian business depending on the Azov sea ports and destabilize the country before the next year presidential and parliamentary elections; and utilize conflict for the goals of internal Russian propaganda against Ukraine and the West.
What can we do in order to stop Russia’s aggressive actions?
The Kremlin’s aggressive adventurism will go on escalating until it is stopped by really strong response of the civilised world, including much more effective sectoral and personal economic and diplomatic sanctions. Russian attack against Ukrainian naval ships should be recognised at the international level as an act of aggression against Ukraine with all the following international legal implications. And its high time to consider the international recognition of Russia as the aggressor state.
What can the West do in the region of the Azov Sea so that Russia could not obtain its aims?
NATO should expand its military presence in the Black Sea. At the same time, the Western partners should assist Ukraine in strengthening its defence capacities on the Azov and Black Seas coasts. The West should also consider measures helping Ukraine to compensate economic losses caused by Russian illegal shipping restrictions in the Azov Sea.
The West should finally begin responding to Russia’s aggressive policy seriously, otherwise security situation will continue deteriorating.
Agnieszka Marcela Kamińska, PolskieRadio24.pl