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    Ukrainian naval ships violating Russian maritime border, Photo: Crimea's FSB Press Service

    US Vows to Work With EU States Against 'Russian Aggression' After Kerch Row

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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The United States will continue working with European countries as a unified front against Russia’s "aggression," the US State Department said in a statement, commenting on the Kerch Strait incident.

    "The United States will continue to hold Russia accountable for its actions, and we will continue to work with European partners and Allies to present a unified front against the Kremlin’s aggression," the US State Department said in a Saturday statement, commenting on the incident.

    "We also welcome the unanimous decision of the European Council to extend economic sanctions against Russia. We support the EU position that Russia’s November 25th attack on Ukrainian vessels in the Black Sea constituted a violation of international law and welcome the EU’s efforts to provide support to areas of Ukraine negatively affected by Russian aggression in the Sea of Azov," the statement adds.

    On November 25, Ukraine's Berdyansk and Nikopol gunboats and the Yany Kapu tugboat illegally crossed the Russian maritime border as they sailed toward the Kerch Strait, the entrance to the Sea of Azov. The Ukrainian vessels were arrested by Russia after failing to respond to a demand to stop.

    After the incident, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared martial law in several Ukrainian regions located near the Russian border and the coasts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the incident was a provocation prepared in advance as a pretext to introduce martial law in Ukraine ahead of the country’s presidential election. The martial law would affect the campaign, set to start in late December, amid Poroshenko's low approval rating, Putin added.

    The US State Department also said in its statement that the United States urges Germany to take into account concerns of the neighbouring states over the Nord Stream 2 construction.

    READ MORE: New Anti-Russia Sanctions to Complicate Talks on Kerch Strait Crisis — Berlin

    "The United States welcomes recent steps by the EU and its Member States to hold Russia accountable for its aggression against Ukraine. The European Parliament’s December 12 resolution reiterates the importance of Ukraine’s role in the European energy supply network and condemns the construction of the Kremlin-backed Nord Stream 2 pipeline as a political project. We urge Germany to heed the concerns of the many neighbours whose security will be damaged by this pipeline," the Saturday statement reads.

    Nord Stream 2 is a joint venture of Russia’s Gazprom with France's Engie, Austria’s OMV AG, UK-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell, and Germany's Uniper and Wintershall, which aims to deliver 55 billion cubic meters (some 2 trillion cubic feet) of Russian natural gas a year to the European Union through the Baltic Sea bypassing Ukraine.

    Some of EU states, particularly Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, have opposed the project, claiming that it was politically motivated. Ukraine has also slammed the project, not willing to lose its share in gas transit to Europe, and the United States, which is seeking to squeeze Russia out of the EU energy market in order to deliver more liquefied natural gas to Europe. Other western states have supported the project, with Germany calling Nord Stream 2 a purely commercial project and saying no one would benefit from abandoning it.

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