Ukrainian navy explains why Russian ships in Sea of Azov remain unharmed
Destruction of Russian landing ship Saratov in temporarily occupied Berdiansk in 2022 (Video screenshot)

The Ukrainian Armed Forces are not targeting Russian ships in the Sea of Azov because the invaders' warships do not enter occupied ports, and Ukraine will not strike civilian vessels – even those looting resources from occupied territories, Ukrainian Navy spokesperson Dmytro Pletenchuk said in an interview with the Center of Journalistic Investigations.

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The journalist asked why Ukrainian forces aren't reaching Russian ships in the Sea of Azov, although in 2022 they hit them in the port of temporarily occupied Berdiansk.

"By the way, Russia doesn't bring military ships into the ports of Mariupol and Berdiansk, where at the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the large landing ship Saratov was destroyed and two others were damaged. They continue to use these ports to loot occupied territories – grain and metal," the spokesperson stated.

He explained that for looting resources, the invaders mostly use vessels that don't enter foreign ports (where they would be immediately arrested), but instead transfer the stolen goods to "white fleet" ships.

The military official reported that Ukraine monitors this situation, and there have been cases where analysis revealed the origin of the grain – which is quite easy to do since the ships are visible from a great distance.

However, Pletenchuk stressed that Ukraine, of course, will not inflict damage on such vessels, no matter how "civilian" they might appear to be.

The spokesperson noted that Russian actions with these ships violate international law.

"We should start by saying that the Kerch Strait is completely closed, and it's in Ukraine's territorial waters. This is our sovereign territory, and last year we issued a warning that we're closing this area to navigation," he said.

However, the military official acknowledged that this ban is still being violated: although foreign vessels don't enter occupied ports and head to Russian harbors in Taganrog, these ships still pass through the closed Kerch Strait and periodically travel to or from the Bosphorus.

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