Ukraine’s ministry of information policy has elaborated a new procedure for visits to Crimea, which Kiev claims to be Ukraine’s territory, for foreign journalists following the introduction of martial law in a number of Ukrainian regions.
Thus, foreign journalists will have to obtain a special one-time permit to cross the border via Ukrainian checkpoints, the ministry said on Sunday. The final decision on giving access to Crimea is to be taken by the State Border Service.
On November 27, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (national parliament) endorsed President Pyotr Poroshenko’s decree imposing 30-day martial law in a number of Ukrainian regions from November 28. Martial law is to be introduced in the Vinnitsa, Lugansk, Nikolayev, Odessa, Sumy, Kharkov, Chernigov, Donetsk, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, and in Ukraine’s territorial waters in the Azov-Kerch area.
The move followed an incident in the Kerch Strait on November 25, when three Ukrainian warships heading from Odessa to Mariupol illegally crossed the Russian border, entered Russia’s territorial waters and carried out dangerous maneuvers. The Ukrainian ships ignored repeated warnings and demands to stop and continued risky maneuvers, which forced Russian border guards to use weapons to compel them to stop. The three ships were detained. Thee Ukrainian servicemen who had been injured in the incident received medical assistance. Their lives are out of danger. A criminal case was opened in Russia on border violation charges.
On November 30, Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Information Policy Emine Dzhaparova said that following the declaration of martial law Kiev had banned foreign journalists to enter Crimea and Donbass. Later, the ministry said it had decided to refrain from complete ban and promised to elaborate a new procedure for giving access to Crimea for foreign journalists.
The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of authorities brought to power amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February 2014.
Crimea and Sevastopol adopted declarations of independence on March 11, 2014. They held a referendum on March 16, 2014, in which 96.77% of Crimeans and 95.6% of Sevastopol voters chose to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the reunification treaties on March 18, 2014. The documents were ratified by Russia’s Federal Assembly, or bicameral parliament, on March 21.
Despite the absolutely convincing results of the referendum, Ukraine has been refusing to recognize Crimea as a part of Russia.