Tensions have flared after a Russian coast guard ship rammed a Ukrainian tug trying to traverse the passage. The Ukraine navy said the tug and its two accompanying patrol boats were on their way from the Ukrainian port of Odessa in the west of the Black Sea to the port of Mariupol on the Ukrainian coast in the Sea of Azov.

Unconfirmed reports claimed that 35 vessels have been prevented from travelling through the straits and are waiting at sea. Reports on social media claim that in effect the two Ukrainian ports on the coast of the Sea of Azov at Berdyansk and Mariupol are effectively under blockade. Only vessels headed to Russian ports in the Sea of Azov have been granted permission to pass through the straits, according to the same unconfirmed reports. A blockage of ports is technically an act of war.

Gulliver Cragg, the correspondent for France 24 in Kyiv, #Berdyansk confirms to me that no vessel has been able to reach the port for six days — Russia is preventing them from passing under the Kerch Strait. Four ships on their way to Berdyansk have been stuck for a week. Apparently 14 bound for Mariupol are waiting.”

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