Russian Aggression Toward Ukraine Continues

[Background: Part One; Part Two.]

Russia's aggression toward Ukraine is frighteningly escalating:
Two Ukrainian Azov Sea ports, Berdyansk and Mariupol, are effectively under blockade by Russia as vessels are being barred from leaving and entering, Ukraine's infrastructure minister, Volodymyr Omelyan, said on Thursday.

Overall, 35 vessels have been prevented from carrying out normal operations and only vessels moving towards Russian ports on the Azov Sea are permitted entry, he said on Facebook.

"The goal is simple: By placing a blockade on Ukrainian ports on the Azov Sea, Russia hopes to drive Ukraine out of our own territory — territory that is ours in accordance with all relevant international laws," he said.

Omelyan said 18 vessels were awaiting entry into the Azov Sea, including four to Berdyansk and 14 to Mariupol. There is also a line of nine vessels to leave the Azov Sea and eight other vessels are standing by near the port berths.

Grain and steel dominates the Azov ports shipments.
This is extremely troubling. The blockade is not only intended to drive Ukraine out of their own territory, but also to grievously harm the Ukrainian economy.

And I am gasping at the dire symbolism of preventing ships carrying grain from porting during an act of aggression which coincided, not coincidentally, with Ukraine's designated remembrance of the Holodomor, during which millions of Ukrainians were starved by Joseph Stalin.

This is intolerable.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is urging NATO to send ships to the area "to assist Ukraine and provide security."
Ukraine is not a NATO member, but the trans-Atlantic group has expressed "full support" for the country. "We cannot accept this aggressive policy of Russia," Poroshenko told Germany's Bild. "First it was Crimea, then eastern Ukraine, now he wants the Sea of Azov. Germany, too, has to ask itself: What will Putin do next if we do not stop him?"
The international community must endeavor to prevent having to find out the answer to that question.

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