"As for the restrictions on the so-called innocent passage through the [Black Sea] territorial waters for such a long period, they are unprecedented and problematic from the point of view of international law. Since we are talking about the international and territorial waters of the illegally annexed Crimea, we consider this to be in violation of international law", German Foreign Ministry spokesman Christofer Burger said, adding that Berlin was closely monitoring the situation.
On 14 April, the Russian Defence Ministry's department of navigation and oceanography released a bulletin stating that from 24 April to 31 October, there will be no passage through the territorial sea of Russia for foreign warships and vessels in three water areas of the Black Sea. The bulletin noted that the zones planned for closure would not prevent the navigation through the Kerch Strait and are located within the Russian territorial waters.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has lodged a protest with Moscow over the closure and called it a violation of norms and principles of international law since Ukraine has the right to regular shipping in these areas of the Black Sea. Notably, the Kerch Strait itself and access to it, according to the Russian ministry's bulletin, are not part of the water areas that are expected to be closed.
Last week, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov stressed that since no trade restrictions were introduced after Russia closed parts of the Black Sea for foreign navies, Russia acts in compliance with international deals.
Moscow has rejected accusations that it occupies any territory and has repeatedly said the residents of Crimea decided to rejoin Russia via a referendum organised in accordance with international law and standards.