"Everything is pretty simple here. According to the international agreements, laws, treaties, Ukrainian warships have the right to freely pass from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov and vice versa. End of story. Yes, we will continue to do it, regardless of whether Russians like it or not. We will continue to do this. Next time, we will take international observers with us," Biryukov said, as quoted by the 5 Kanal broadcaster.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the incident was a provocation prepared in advance as a pretext to introduce martial law. Putin said the provocation could be linked to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's low approval ratings ahead of the presidential election.
In December, Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov said Kiev planned to carry out a new passage of Ukrainian ships through the Kerch Strait. Moscow slammed Kiev’s plans as irresponsible, saying that they were designed to aggravate the situation.