Ukraine in talks with U.S., EU on possible sanctions against Russian Black Sea ports over Azov Sea pressure - minister

Since the second half of April, Russian coast guards have systemically been inspecting foreign vessels bound for and heading from Ukraine ports, with the number of detained ships constantly increasing.

Ukraine is negotiating with European and American partners on imposing sanctions against the Black Sea ports of the Russian Federation over  Russia's efforts to hinder Ukraine's economic activities in the Sea of Azov, says Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan.

"We are in talks with our European and American partners to apply the appropriate sanctions to Russia's Black Sea ports over the blockade of the Azov Sea and Ukrainian ports in the Azov Sea," Omelyan said on air of 112 Ukraine TV channel.

The minister added that Russians would pay a high price for the construction of the Kerch Strait bridge which affected operations of Ukraine's ports in the Sea of Azov.

"We see that the sanctions tide is not subsiding, on the contrary, it's on the rise. The latest consideration in by the U.S. Congress of the issue on expanding sanctions and in general the possibility of recognizing Russia as a country that sponsors terrorism is more than an adequate response to Russia's arbitrariness," said Omelyan.

Read also"This can't go on like that": Kyiv preparing response to mass detentions of ships by Russian coast guards in Sea of Azov

As UNIAN reported earlier, according to the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, starting from the second half of April, Russian coast guards launched inspections of foreign vessels bound for and heading from the ports of Ukraine. Border guards note that Ukraine has been a hostage to the situation since 2004, namely, the Agreement on Cooperation between Ukraine and Russia in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait, which defines the Azov Sea as sea of internal use of the two states. Thus, both Russian and Ukrainian border guards can inspect vessels, which, in their opinion, are suspicions.

According to the Administration of Seaports of Ukraine, the number of detained vessels is growing daily. As of July 16, it was 148 ships.

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko said he had issued orders to the Minister of Defense, Chief of the General Staff and the Navy Commander to take measures to prevent mass detentions by Russians of ships navigating via the Kerch Strait.

Amid Ukraine's concerns that Russia could use its military build-up in the Sea of Azov to attack Ukraine from sea, miliary expert Oleksandr Kovalenko of the Ukrainian OSINT NGO Information Resistance has suggested a possible scenario of a Russian offensive on the strategic port city of Mariupol.

"This must be a full-scale operation with massing the ground forces in the region along with amphibious operations from the Sea of Azov. But, as you know, the 'DPR' ['Donetsk People's Republic'] does not have any fleet to carry out such landing. And, given the concentration of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) in this sector, the Kremlin will simply have to resort to regular units of the Russian armed forces."