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Germany, France Tried to Ensure Presence of Observers in Kerch Strait - Merkel

© Sputnik / Georgy ZimarevAzov Sea
Azov Sea - Sputnik International
MOSCOW (Sputnik) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday that attempts are being made to allow representatives of Germany and France to observe shipping in the Sea of Azov.

"We tried to expand the OSCE mission to the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov, but Russia rejected it. Now we are trying to ensure that at least representatives from Germany and France could observe the passage of ships there", Merkel said in Bundestag.

The Russian side assured that reasonable navigation in the Sea of Azov was possible, according to the chancellor. "But we need actions," Merkel stressed.

READ MORE: Germany Supports Sanctions Extension Against Russia Over Kerch Incident — Merkel

On November 25, Ukraine's Berdyansk and Nikopol gunboats and the Yany Kapu tugboat illegally crossed the Russian maritime border as they sailed toward the Kerch Strait, the entrance to the Sea of Azov. The Ukrainian vessels were arrested by Russia after failing to respond to a demand to stop.

A view of the new bridge across the Kerch Strait linking Russia's Taman Peninsula with Crimea, after regular traffic began, in Kerch, Crimea, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. - Sputnik International
EU Members Lack Common Position on Sanctions Over Kerch Strait Incident - Source
Following the incident, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a decree declaring martial law in several Ukrainian regions located near the Russian border and the coasts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, which will be in place for 30 days.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the incident was a provocation prepared in advance as a pretext to introduce martial law in Ukraine ahead of the country’s presidential election. The martial law would affect the campaign, set to start in late December, amid Poroshenko's low approval rating, Putin said.

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