President Petro Poroshenko stressed that the crisis in the Azov Sea area did not explode immediately. Ukraine has repeatedly drawn the attention of its partners to the provocations of Russians, escalation in the region and attempts by Russians to turn Azov into their inland lake.
“At times, I will say frankly, the impression was that some of our friends underestimated the obvious risks, although we provided absolutely objective information to our partners. We were not dramatizing. And only the aggressive actions of Russia, along with adequate reaction of Ukraine in the form of the introduction of martial law, have drawn the proper attention of all world diplomacy to this problem,” the Head of State noted.
The President drew attention to the fact that from the very first hours of a blatant, unprovoked act of aggression and seizure of Ukrainian seamen, the whole world supported Ukraine, except for some Ukrainian politicians who asked the question: why does Ukraine protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity, why does it fight against the occupation of the Kerch Strait and send ships there. “It is necessary to surrender, recognize the occupation and give it to the Russian Federation – this is offered by separate politicians. An absolute majority of Ukrainians supports peace. But peace on the national interests of Ukraine. Not on the terms of capitulation, which some politicians, guided solely by their own election ventures, not by the state interests of Ukraine, are trying to impose on Ukrainians. I emphasize that we will not allow it,” Petro Poroshenko said.
According to him, within the UN Security Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations, NATO, OSCE, Council of Europe, European Parliament and the European Union, the G7 and so on, the Ukrainian side will defend its national interests. “I would like to emphasize again that, along with martial law, this support and concrete actions of our international partners, their pressure on the Kremlin stopped the worst scenario, which was also planned by the Russian Federation. Our military, diplomats, partners all together did not allow Putin to cross a new red line,” he said.
The President recalled the initiative to consolidate the Ukrainian Constitution’s aspiration to become closer to NATO. “Only anchoring Ukraine in the “NATO Bay”, we will once and for all shake off the Kremlin’s desire to provoke an escalation in the Ukrainian direction,” he said. The Head of State expressed hope that at the level of Ukrainian legislation, this will be done immediately at the next session of the Verkhovna Rada. He said that in February he would appeal to the Parliament to finally vote for the amendments to the Constitution, which proclaim the obligatory Ukrainian course on joining the EU and NATO.
“The international community in its estimates of the incident in the Kerch Strait looks much more unanimous, as I said, than the Ukrainian political community.
He also stressed that there was the city of Volokolamsk in Russia, where a thousand years ago the vessels were dragged from one river to another that is how the city got its name. “One member of the opposition said that we should not use the Kerch – Enikalsky Channel of the Kerch Straight but to drag our military ships from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov. That is their proposal that not only Kremlin but also our opposition are trying to impose on us” the President said.
“I strongly emphasize, Ukraine will never retreat from using its Azov seaports, including by military ships. The truth is on our side, the law is on our side, including the international law, the support of the world is on our side and we will use all political and diplomatic means for this,” the Head of State emphasized.
The President stressed that the members of the NSDC bear full responsibility for protecting the country – not just for protecting sovereignty, but for protecting the security of its citizens. “Citizens of Ukraine should feel protected under the protection of the Armed Forces and other security units,” he said.