Ukraine has started deploying modern armoured artillery boats at the Azov region to counter Russian aggression in the south of Ukraine, the organization of coastal defense and protection of the Azov Sea coast.
A Ukrainian popular military website, the Ukrainian Military Portal, has confirmed the deployment of first small armoured artillery boat of Gurza-M-class in the Azov region on 8 September.
According to the website, it is expected that three small armoured artillery boats will be deployed to the Azov Sea, which today will be the most powerful units in this region.
Ukraine’s Navy is in a state of heightened alert in the Sea of Azov, a body of water shared by the Eastern European nation and Russia.
“The security service said: ‘Watch closely, the Russians are preparing countermeasures. They are planning seizures and hijackings of Ukrainian ships,’” a Ukrainian shipowner told Radio Free Europe in a video published on Wednesday.
While such an incident has yet to occur, Ukraine ’s military has noticed an increasing number of Russian ships building up in the sea since late May.
According to Secretary of the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov, Russia’s buildup of the military presence is combined with “a brutal violation of international maritime law in the Azov Sea, which manifests itself, in particular, in the illegal construction of the Kerch Bridge and the growing number of incidents involving the detention of Russian military domestic and foreign vessels”. “We see Russia’s efforts to actually unleash a military-economic blockade of the Azov coast of Ukraine”, – he said.
The Sea of Azov is a small, shallow sea connected to the Black Sea. Kerch Strait, which is the only connection between the Azov Sea and the Black Sea, is located between Kerch peninsula in the West and Taman peninsula in the East. While the former peninsula is part of Crimea, the latter is located in Russia’s Krasnodar Krai.
According to Oleksandr Turchynov, an adequate counteraction to Russian expansion requires strengthening the naval presence of Ukraine in the region by means of “relocating a part of the ship-boat Navy force, deploying additional watch posts along the coastline and the sea, as well as rapid deployment forces to counter Russian provocations in the Azov region”.
“The Ukrainian military servicemen duly fulfill the tasks set before them, reliably protecting the south of Ukraine, and are capable of adequately counteracting the military provocations of the Russian Federation”, – Secretary of the NSDC of Ukraine summarized.