Kerch Bridge has become a serious threat to Ukraine's security, - said Oleksandr Turchynov
According to Oleksandr Turchinov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Russia's construction of a bridge across the Kerch Strait in the occupied by it Crimea, created a number of serious threats and means of pressure on Ukraine, the key one is the threat to the security of the Ukrainian state.
"Because of the bridge, now it is possible to transfer significant forces of the land forces of the Russian Federation to the Crimea quickly, and wage further offensive operations in the south of Ukraine", O.Turchynov told Interfax-Ukraine in an exclusive interview.
At the same time, the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine noted that the occupied Crimea is already militarized by Russia to the highest extend possible.
"A powerful 22nd Army Corps was raised there, and the capabilities of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation are growing. Missile complexes located in the Crimea can strike our positions in the deep rear. The S-400 anti-aircraft systems can hit any air target in the central part of Ukraine. All this is a serious threat for us", - he stressed.
In the context of the threats posed by Russia to the security of Ukraine in the southern direction, O.Turchynov informed of the establishment of a flotilla in the Sea of Azov during the last months. For that purpose the FSB border troops were reinforced by additional ships, and some ships of the Russian Navy from the Caspian Sea were redeployed.
"Now, for conducting military operations in the Sea of Azov, they can use a significant number of landing ships, as well as ships of the "Buyan-M" class, equipped with cruise missiles", - he said.
According to the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, an increase in the landing capabilities of the RF Armed Forces in the Sea of Azov will allow the forces and means of the Army of the Southern Military District, which now threaten Ukraine from the east, to be redeployed onto the Ukrainian coast.
"As a result, we have a powerful military infrastructure along the entire Ukrainian-Russian border. And apart from the threat from the east, we have a significant threat increase in the southern direction, while from the north, two armies of the Western Military District hang over us - the 20th and 1st armored Army, which can also be activated at any time", - said O Turchinov, noting that all this poses serious challenges to Ukraine.
He also stressed that by building the Kerch Bridge, Russia has obtained a capability to carry out unlawful control over vessels passing the Kerch Strait and to block the Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov at any time at its will.
"Ukraine has the capability to detain Russian ships that violate our legislation by their actions ... But while we act adequately within the framework of international law, Russia, as always, grossly violates international law by conducting an illegal survey of ships that go to Ukrainian ports. This is actually a continuation of the hybrid war in the economic dimension, a demonstration of readiness to block our ports in the Azov Sea", - said O.Turchynov.
In this context, he noted that theoretically, the Ukrainian authorities have the option to redirect traffic flows from ports on the Azov Sea to others, but this will complicate logistics, and then products such as of Mariupol's metallurgical plants will increase in price, reducing their competitiveness.
"The complexity of the situation is that immediately after the conflict around the island of Tuzla Ukraine has signed an agreement under Russia's pressure, according to which the Sea of Azov is defined as the internal sea of two states. And this status does not allow to clearly define the border line at sea and provides the Russian Federation an opportunity to intensify provocations", - added the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine.