Russia denies charges leveled at it by Ukraine of illegal dredging of the seabed in the Kerch Strait, the Soviet-era border between the two countries, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Friday. The ministry that said no state border existed in the area of the Kerch Strait, whose legal status was the subject of bilateral negotiations, RIA Novosti informs.

"The Kerch Strait seems to have already been demarcated unilaterally [by the Ukrainian side]," the ministry said. "Such steps taken during the negotiations on the strait's legal status contradict international law, threaten the achievement of a final agreement and are rejected by the Russian side."

Kiev's displeasure with the dredging work, conducted by the dredger Urengoi to deepen the seabed, comes on the back of the dispute between Russia and Ukraine over a Black Sea lighthouse, in Ukrainian territory but leased by the Russian Black Sea Fleet, which Ukrainian officials seized five days ago. Ukraine said it had the rights to the lighthouse, while Russia's Navy Command called the move a "provocation".

Ukraine's move recalls tensions in 2003 between Russia and Ukraine over Tuzla Island in the Kerch Strait, when Russia's attempt to construct a dam there provoked a bitter three-month dispute with its neighbor.

As a reminder, Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko reported Ukraine demanded Russia to cease unapproved works in Kerch Strait.

According to Ohryzko, Urengoy hydraulic dredge touching at the territory waters of Ukraine violates Ukraine’s sovereignty. It conducts dredging, Ohryzko added.

“Ukraine urged Russia to assume urgent measures for ceasing of dredging in this area of waters,” stressed Ohryzko.


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