18:59 GMT23 April 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russia’s Embassy in Washington has denied claims by the US State Department that Russian ships were delaying commercial vessels in the Sea of Azov bounded by Ukraine.

    "US authorities continue to generate new accusations against Russia to deflect attention from flagrant violations of human rights both in its satellite states… and at home," the Embassy said in a statement.

    Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert blamed Thursday Russia for "harassment of international shipping" in the Sea of Azov and the adjacent Kerch Strait.

    She said Russian ships had stopped at least 16 commercial ships going to Ukrainian ports since April, in what she referred to as an attempt to destabilize Ukraine.

    The Russian diplomatic mission, in turn, slammed the United States for closing eyes to Ukrainian "piracy" in the Sea of Azov, where its coast guards seized a Russian trawler in March and have been illegally holding a tanker and its crew in the port of Kherson since August 10.

    The Embassy again reminded the US authorities about the case of accused Russian spy Maria Butina, who has been detained in a Washington jail on trumped-up charges.

    "The State Department will not divert our attention from these appalling acts. We call on the Americans to stop shielding their unruly charges in the Sea of Azov and start a detailed dialogue on Russian nationals jailed in the US," it concluded.

    READ MORE: Russian Destroyer Rescues Ukrainian Fishing Vessel Crew in Mediterranean


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    vessels, violation, Russian embassy in US, U.S. Department of State, Sea of Azov, US, Ukraine, Russia
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