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‘Unprovoked escalation’: US says Russia’s plans to block Black Sea to impact access to Ukrainian ports

Russian state media have reported that Moscow intends to close parts of the Black Sea to foreign military and official ships for six months

Published: Apr 20, 2021, 20:25 (IST)

The US State Department on Monday branded as an “unprovoked escalation” the reported Russian plans to block parts of the Black Sea, which could ultimately impact access to Ukrainian ports.

Russian state media have reported that Moscow intends to close parts of the Black Sea to foreign military and official ships for six months.

Such a move could affect access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, which is connected to the Black Sea through the Kerch Strait, on the eastern tip of the Crimean peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014.

ALSO READThe Ukraine-Russia Rift: An Army standoff, is the world heading towards a major prolonged War.

“This represents yet another unprovoked escalation in Moscow’s ongoing campaign to undermine and destabilise Ukraine,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

“This development is particularly troubling amid credible reports of the Russian troop buildup in occupied Crimea and around Ukraine’s borders, now at levels not seen since Russia’s invasion in 2014,” he added.

Moscow’s military build-up on the border with Ukraine is even bigger than in 2014 when Russia invaded Crimea, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday, describing the deployment as “very seriously concerning.”

While the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell cited a figure of 150,000 Russian soldiers on the Ukrainian border, before his own services scaled that figure back without explanation to 100,000, US Defense Department spokesman John Kirby declined to name a specific figure.

Tensions between Russia and the West have been escalating in recent weeks following an uptick in fighting between Ukraine’s army and pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Moscow has amassed tens of thousands of troops along Ukraine’s northern and eastern borders, as well as in annexed Crimea, sparking warnings from NATO.

Sourcehttps://www.wionews.com/world/unprovoked-escalation-us-says-russias-plans-to-block-black-sea-to-impact-access-to-ukrainian-ports-378712

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