The essentials in brief:
- Second attack on Kerch Strait bridge in a year
- Ukraine commemorates its declaration of sovereignty 33 years ago
- Secretary of State Baerbock wants penalties for perpetrators of aggressive wars
- Grains deal future still uncertain
According to information from Kiev, the Ukrainian navy and special forces are behind the attack on the bridge between Russia and the annexed Crimean peninsula. The AFP news agency learned from SBU circles that the attack was a “special operation” by the Ukrainian domestic secret service SBU and the Navy. Naval drones were used in the attack on the bridge over the Kerch Strait – between the Russian region of Krasnodar and the Crimean peninsula.
Two people were killed in the attack, according to the Ministry of Health of Russia’s Krasnodar region. A girl was injured. Belgorod Region Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said the dead were the child’s parents. Traffic on the bridge was disrupted.
The Ukrainian secret service did not initially confirm that it was involved, but only said in an initial reaction: “The bridge has ‘gone to sleep’ again.” Kiev later claimed responsibility for a first attack on the bridge last fall that left three dead. The roadway was also badly damaged at the time, but later repaired. Ukraine’s Crimea was annexed by Russia in 2014.
Kremlin: US and UK involved in attack
Russia officially spoke of an “act of terrorism”. The Kremlin blamed Ukrainian secret services. The Russian Anti-Terrorism Committee said the bridge was attacked by surface drones early Monday morning. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused Ukraine of carrying out an attack on the Russia-Crimea bridge with the participation of Britain and the United States. Zakharova provided no evidence to support her claims.
“Today’s attack on the Crimean bridge was perpetrated by the Kiev regime. This regime is terrorist and has all the hallmarks of an international organized crime group,” she said. “Decisions are made by Ukrainian officials and military with the direct involvement of American and British intelligence agencies and politicians. The US and Britain are responsible for a terrorist state structure.”
The bridge was partially damaged in an explosion in October 2022. Moscow had blamed Ukrainian secret services for the truck attack. Kyiv denied this.
Zelenskyj celebrates 33 years of sovereignty
33 years ago, Ukraine declared itself a sovereign state. The passing of the relevant document on July 16, 1990 was used by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in his daily video address to emphasize his country’s strength in resisting the Russian war of aggression. “Our country will never give up its sovereignty. That’s clear to everyone in the world,” he said on Sunday evening. Let’s celebrate a free Ukraine. Once again Zelenskyj explicitly thanked a number of named soldiers who fought for the country.
In the declaration of independence for Ukraine, which was still part of the Soviet Union at the time, the parliament in Kiev decided that the country should have its own army and national bank, but should not have nuclear weapons and be non-aligned. The following year, Ukraine declared its independence from Moscow, which was partly responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Baerbock calls for penalties for aggressive wars
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is banking on a reform of international law so that perpetrators of a war of aggression, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, are held accountable. “In the 21st century, no one should wage aggressive war and remain unpunished,” demanded the Green politician before a trip to New York. There she wants to take part in a ceremony at the United Nations (UN) to mark the 25th anniversary of the founding of the International Criminal Court (ICC). A speech at the UN Security Council is also planned.
“In the eyes of the perpetrators, the ICC is already a sharp sword,” said Baerbock. In the eyes of the victims, he is the hope that their suffering will not go unpunished. “That’s why a gap in criminal prosecution is particularly painful,” said the minister. In the case of crimes of aggression against “the most precious asset we have: our peace,” the hurdles for criminal prosecution are still too high. “That’s why we want to work with partners to further develop international law so that it does justice to our realities in the 21st century.”
During a visit to the court’s headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands, in January, Baerbock had already suggested changing the legal basis of the court so that the offense of aggressive war could also be prosecuted without restriction. It should be sufficient if the victim state of an aggression falls under the jurisdiction of the court. Currently, only the UN Security Council can refer the case to the court, as neither Russia nor Ukraine are contracting parties. As a permanent member, Russia has a right of veto in the Security Council.
Before her departure, Baerbock also criticized: “The barbarity of the Russian war is particularly evident in the fate of the many thousands of children who were abducted from Ukraine to Russia.” Russia not only robs them of their childhood, but also of their identity and future. The fact that the court has started investigations is an “important step towards justice”.
Grain deal still ‘in limbo’
The United Nations-brokered grain deal between Ukraine and Russia remains in limbo. The agreement, which allows for the safe export of Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea, was not renewed on Sunday. “We are waiting for Moscow’s position, everything is possible,” reports the Russian state news agency TASS, citing people from UN circles familiar with the matter. The agreement expires this Monday.
Russia has so far refused to extend the agreement again. The Kremlin complains that although agricultural products can be exported under the agreement, payments for these are blocked due to sanctions. A few days ago, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sent Russian President Vladimir Putin a proposal to extend the agreement, according to which hurdles to financial transactions via the Russian Agricultural Bank should be removed.
The agreement, which allows Ukraine to export grain across the Russian fleet-controlled Black Sea, was reached a year ago through the mediation of the United Nations and Turkey and has since been extended several times.
nob/sti/mak/wa (dpa, afp, rtr)