The United States expresses its deep concern over Russia’s plans to block foreign naval ships and state vessels in parts of the Black Sea, including near occupied Crimea and the Kerch Strait. Russia has a history of taking aggressive actions against Ukrainian vessels and impeding access to Ukraine’s ports in the Sea of Azov, impacting Ukraine’s international commerce. This represents yet another unprovoked escalation in Moscow’s ongoing campaign to undermine and destabilize Ukraine. This development is particularly troubling amid credible reports of Russian troop buildup in occupied Crimea and around Ukraine’s borders, now at levels not seen since Russia’s invasion in 2014, and other provocative actions by Russia-led forces at the Line of Contact.
The United States reaffirms its unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters. The United States does not, and will never, recognize Russia’s purported annexation of Crimea.
We commend Ukraine for its continued restraint in the face of Russian provocations, and call on Russia to cease its harassment of vessels in the region and reverse its build-up of forces along Ukraine’s border and in occupied Crimea.