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Kremlin rejects Ukraine’s ‘absurd’ accusation about plan to seize Azov Sea ports

The Kremlin has denounced as “absurd” a Ukrainian accusation that Russia is planning to seize major ports in the Sea of Azov in order to build a land corridor between the Crimean Peninsula and eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russia forces.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s statement about Russia planning to seize the ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk for a “corridor” from Donbass to Crimea was baseless and just another attempt to cause tensions.

“This statement is absolutely absurd; it is another attempt to somehow spark tensions. Unfortunately, it is clear that such attempts are likely to continue as the presidential election in Ukraine is nearing,” Peskov said, adding, “Russia has never seized anything, or laid any corridors.”

“That’s why this is an absolutely ungrounded statement,” the Kremlin spokesman stressed.

The Ukrainian president has previously accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of seeking to rebuild “the old Russian Empire” by what he claimed as seizing the whole Crimea.

Tensions over Ukraine further escalated on November 25 when Russian border patrols fired at three Ukrainian ships and then seized them along with their sailors because of illegal entry into Russian waters.

The incident took place in the Kerch Strait near Crimea, a former Ukrainian territory on the Black Sea that rejoined Russia in a referendum more than four years ago following deep political changes in Kiev where a pro-Western movement staged weeks of street protests that led to the ouster of the pro-Russia government.