German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas


©  AP Photo/Markus Schreiber

BERLIN, December 6. /TASS/. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas suggested expanding the mandate of the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in Ukraine of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to include the Sea of Azov.

Maas voiced the proposal during bilateral talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and Ukraine’s Pavel Klimkin on the sidelines of the OSCE foreign ministers’ meeting in Milan, Italy.

“OSCE could play a certain role in monitoring [the Sea of Azov],” the Federal Foreign Office quoted the minister as saying.

“I think that the Ukrainian side would consider this rational. The Russian side, on the contrary, is very, very skeptical,” the minister told the DPA news agency.

The Sea of Azov, shared exclusively by Russia and Ukraine, has come into international spotlight following the November 25 incident, in which Russia had to detain Ukrainian warships that violated its border.

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) reported on November 25 that the Ukrainian warships, the Berdyansk, the Nikopol and the Yany Kapu had breached the Russian state border on Sunday morning and attempted to carry out illegal maneuvers in Russia’s territorial waters later. The Ukrainian vessels ignored the legitimate demands of the Coast Guard of the FSB Border Service and the Black Sea Fleet to stop immediately and end their dangerous action. The Ukrainian warships carried on, blatantly disregarding these orders, which triggered a chase involving some gunfire to stop them. Consequently, the ships were detained in Russian territorial waters.

Moscow branded Kiev’s stunt in the Kerch Strait a dangerous provocation, while the European Union and NATO called for a de-escalation of tensions.

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