Klimkin says NATO presence in Black Sea to grow
NATO stands ready to build up its presence in the Black Sea region, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said, commenting on the NATO ministerial meeting held in Brussels on Tuesday.
"Everybody understands that NATO should build up its presence in the Black Sea area. It has yet to be discussed how this should be done, but you'll be hearing some decisions soon. Certainly, this would also include the presence of NATO ships, and this is going to happen quite soon," Klimkin said in an interview with the online publication European Pravda.
He said that NATO should continuously monitor Russia's activities in the Black Sea region and step up cooperation with its partners.
"I proposed that we have a special format within which NATO could actively cooperate with the countries that will be NATO members, Ukraine and Georgia. Another thing that I also explained to all of our allies is that Russia is not only affecting freedom of navigation in the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, which is also dangerous to the Alliance, but also doing all it can to destabilize southern Ukraine," Klimkin said.
Representatives of all 29 NATO countries spoke at the meeting, and they unanimously voiced support for Ukraine, he said.
"It is significant that all our allies are not only denouncing Russia's aggression but also holding important discussions about what we should do, saying that we shouldn't just limit ourselves to statements, however strong they might be. We should formulate a comprehensive response to what Russia is doing in the Black Sea, the Kerch Strait, and the Sea of Azov," he said.
According to Klimkin, the meeting's participants also discussed the political aspect of the situation, saying that the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait should be qualified as territorial waters to which the Convention on the Law of the Sea fully applies.