Kremlin denies Ukrainian charge it is restricting shipping near Crimea

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov looks on during a visit to the Mazda Sollers Manufacturing Rus joint venture plant of Sollers and Japanese Mazda in Vladivostok, Russia September 10, 2018. Valery Sharifulin/TASS Host Photo Agency/Pool via REUTERS

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin on Thursday denied a Ukrainian allegation that Russia was restricting shipping near Crimea as part of what Kiev said was a de facto blockade of its ports on the Sea of Azov.

Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, Volodymyr Omelyan, earlier on Thursday accused Russia of barring ships from leaving and entering the sea, days after Moscow seized three Ukrainian naval vessels and their crews.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he was unaware of any such problems and said shipping traffic was moving normally through the Russian-controlled Kerch Strait which separates the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

Peskov said delays did sometimes occur in the area as a result of bad weather however.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

Reporting by Andrew Osborn and Tom Balmforth; Editing by Christian Lowe