NATO foreign ministers to discuss Russia-Ukraine confrontation over Kerch Strait

NATO foreign ministers to discuss Russia-Ukraine confrontation over Kerch Strait

Foreign ministers from the member states of NATO will convene in Brussels today to discuss the recent flare in tensions

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg delivers a speech as he reviews NATO multinational brigade in Craiova

Photo: Bogdan Danescu/Reuters

Foreign ministers from the member states of NATO will convene in Brussels today to discuss the recent flare in tensions between Russia and Ukraine over access to the Sea of Azov.

Kiev has been invited to participate. It will likely reiterate its request for heightened NATO patrols in the Black Sea and increased naval assistance in the waters surrounding Crimea. While representatives are expected to unanimously condemn Russia’s act of aggression towards Ukrainian vessels, it is unlikely that they will consent to an increased deployment to the region, with heavyweights Germany and France having ruled out a military solution.

The Sea of Azov incident, as well as any potential NATO response, is also likely to undermine efforts to quell rising violence in Eastern Ukraine. Germany has pushed strongly in recent weeks for more frequent contact between the ‘Normandy Four’ group of nations committed to a peaceful solution for Ukraine’s conflict. However, Russia’s involvement is likely to pressure NATO to tread carefully in its response to avoid undermining tentative mediation efforts. NATO is expected to endorse the possibility of further sanctions against Moscow.

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