Russia's plan to restrict foreign warships near Crimea will keep Kerch Strait open

The right of passage of foreign warships and "other state ships" will be suspended in three spots near Crimea's Black Sea coast from April 24 until October 31

Ukrainian servicemen patrol along a position at the front line with Russia-backed separatists not far Avdiivka

Moscow - Russia's plan to temporarily restrict movement of foreign warships in part of the Black Sea will not affect the nearby Kerch Strait, the RIA news agency reported on Friday, signalling lower risks for regional trade from Russia-Ukraine tensions. The Kerch Strait is a crucial part of the regional grain trade connecting the Azov sea with the Black Sea.

The area is also close to military drills which Moscow and Kyiv held simultaneously this week. The right of passage of foreign warships and "other state ships" will be suspended in three spots near Crimea's Black Sea coast from April 24 until October 31, RIA said, citing Russia's defence ministry. Moscow annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. But the planned restrictions will not affect navigation in the Kerch Strait or its entry points, RIA said. The Ukrainian foreign ministry said on Thursday that Russia's actions to close off parts of the Black Sea to foreign warships were illegal.

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