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Russia has ‘partially unlocked’ Ukrainian Azov Sea ports - Kiev

Russia has partially unlocked Ukrainian sea ports on the Azov Sea, Ukraine’s infrastructure minister Volodymyr Omelyan said.

FILE: Picture: Pixabay.com.

KIEV/BERLIN - Russia has partially unlocked Ukrainian sea ports on the Azov Sea, Ukraine’s infrastructure minister Volodymyr Omelyan said on Tuesday.

“Yes, Berdyansk and Mariupol ports are partially unlocked. Vessels make their way to the entrance and exit through the Kerch strait towards Ukrainian ports... the movement is partially restored,” the ministry quoted Omelyan as saying.

GERMANY TO BACK RUSSIAN GAS LINK

Germany will not withdraw its political support for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with Russia, its foreign minister said on Monday, as some lawmakers suggested curtailing the project to punish Moscow for its seizure of Ukrainian ships and their crew.

Russia is resisting international calls to release three Ukrainian ships seized last month in the Kerch Strait, which controls access to the Sea of Azov near the Crimea region that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Moscow accuses the 24 sailors of illegally entering Russian waters by trying to pass through the strait. Kiev says the sailors did nothing wrong, and its ships have the right to pass through the strait to reach Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov.

Several German lawmakers have linked the standoff to support for Nord Stream 2, an $11 billion pipeline from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea.

But Foreign minister Heiko Maas, a member of the Social Democrats, junior partners in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition, told reporters the pipeline was a commercial project that would continue even if German firms pull out.

Remaining part of the project gave Germany political influence, including over Russian energy policy toward Ukraine, Maas said.