NATO calls on Russia to ensure freedom of navigation in Black Sea, stop escalation.

NATO is concerned about Russia's intentions to restrict access to certain areas in the Black Sea and calls on Moscow to ensure freedom of navigation and access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, as well as to end the escalation.

The corresponding commentary by NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu was released by the press service of the North Atlantic Alliance.

"We are concerned by reports that Russia plans to restrict access to parts of the Black Sea and the Kerch Strait. This would be an unjustified move and part of a broader pattern of destabilizing behavior by Russia. We call on Russia to ensure free access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov and allow freedom of navigation. Since its illegal annexation of Crimea, Russia has substantially increased its military presence on and around the peninsula. Russia's ongoing militarization of Crimea, the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov are further threats to Ukraine's independence and undermine the stability of the broader region. We call on Russia to de-escalate immediately, stop its pattern of provocations and respect its international commitments. NATO Allies do not and will not recognize Russia's illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea. We fully support Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders," she said.

Interfax-Ukraine

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