A bill was introduced by Russian President Vladimir Putin to the State Duma that proposes the abnegation of the Treaty on Cooperation in use of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait, Russian media Tass reported on May 24.
The document states: "The Treaty between the Russian Federation and Ukraine on Cooperation in use of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait, signed in the city of Kerch on December 24, 2003, should be denounced."
The treaty was signed in 2003 and includes five agreements: 1) The Sea of Azov and the Strait of Kerch are historically internal waters of the Russian Federation and Ukraine. 2) The Sea of Azov must be delimited by the state border in accordance with the Agreement signed by the Parties. 3) Dispute settlement regarding the issues pertaining to the defined area of water of Kerch must be regulated by agreement between the Parties. 4) Mercantile vessels and other state non-commercial vessels flying the flags of the Russian Federation and Ukraine have free navigation in the Sea of Azov and the Strait of Kerch. 5) Russian-Ukrainian co-operation in the spheres of navigation, fisheries, protection of marine environment, ecological safety and life-saving in the Sea of Azov and the Strait of Kerch must be implemented on the basis of existing international agreements and by conclusion, in respective cases, of the new ones.
In February, Kyiv terminated all agreements with Russia concerning co-operation in the Sea of Azov.
The bill comes just a week after the renewal of the Black Sea grain deal on May 17 that allows for the export of Ukrainian agricultural products from three seaports in the Odesa region. The new bill could jeopardise the operations of Ukraine’s ports.
Kyiv claimed earlier this week that the grain corridor is not working efficiently as agricultural exports through its Odesa seaport fell by 78% to 118,300 tonnes from May 15-21 compared to the previous week.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Infrastructure also accused Russia of blocking incoming fleets from accessing the Pivdennyi seaport for nearly a month. Russia has refused to inspect and register vessels unilaterally for the Port of Pivdennyi, providing no reasons for its decision, the Ministry claimed.
Over 1.5mn tonnes of agricultural products destined for 10 countries are waiting at the port, as 26 vessels remain stuck in Turkish waters. The Port of Pivdennyi has subsequently shut down due to a lack of ships, which Kyiv notes will have a “considerable impact on export volumes”, as the port has the greatest capacity in the grain corridor.
“Russia is preventing its participation in the "grain initiative," which constitutes another serious violation of the signed agreement,” the Ministry of Infrastructure wrote on Facebook.
“Thus Russia has found a new method to undermine the effectiveness of the "grain agreement" and subsequently reduce global exports,” it added.