The US State Department has reiterated its demand that Russia
unconditionally return three Ukrainian boats seized during a November
maritime incident. They also announced an increase in direct US financing for the Ukrainian Navy in response to the “dangerous escalation.”
The “escalation” saw three Ukrainian boats entering Russian waters in the Sea of Azov despite warnings they were closed for security reasons. Russia seized the boats pending an investigation into the matter, and has said they will be returned.
The State Department statement seems to mostly be another opportunity to endorse Ukraine’s position and to condemn Russia. In practice, an additional $10 million isn’t likely to make dramatic changes to Ukraine’s tiny navy.
Ukraine has made the incident in the Sea of Azov into a sign of an imminent war with Russia, and has urged NATO to send all the ships it can. British officials noted a British survey ship, the HMS Echo, has arrived in the area recently, to “send a message.” The survey ship is barely armed, and its presence is unlikely to be perceived as any serious threat to regional stability.
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