Tensions escalate after Russian Federation fires on and seizes Ukrainian ships


In Kiev, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called a vote in parliament to consider imposing martial law at 4 p.m. Monday, a major step that his government rejected in 2014 when it was in open war with Moscow-backed separatists and forces from Russian Federation.

The FSB said it had been forced to act because the ships - two small Ukrainian armored artillery vessels and a tug boat. - had illegally entered its territorial waters, attempted illegal actions, and ignored warnings to stop while maneuvering dangerously.

Germany's foreign minister said the latest clash between the two countries, whose relations have been severely strained since Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea and its backing for a pro-Moscow insurgency in eastern Ukraine, was "worrying". Russia, which annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, defended its actions, saying the Ukrainian warships sailed into its territorial waters and were carrying out "dangerous maneuvers", the Tass news service reported, citing the FSB.

Russian Federation had previously blocked the Kerch Strait near Russia-annexed Crimea to stop the ships from passing from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov, saying the small flotilla had not notified it of its plans in advance and ignored warnings to stop while manoeuvring dangerously. Transit under the bridge has been blocked by a tanker ship, and dozens of cargo ships awaiting passage are stuck. Ukraine blames the Russian aggression on Moscow's increased blockades in an area that's supposed to be shared waters. Russian military demands surrender, threatening to attack and seize Ukrainian ships with Spetsnaz team.

According to the preliminary information, six Ukrainian sailors were injured, two of them were severely wounded.

For reference. Article 17 of the UN Convention provides that, subject to compliance with the Convention, vessels of all states, both coastal and landlocked, enjoy the right to peaceful passage through the territorial sea.

Russia blocks Kerch Strait amid confrontation with Ukraine

It said a Russian border guard vessel rammed the tugboat in "openly aggressive actions" and then fired on the ships, immobilizing all three.

Russia is still fomenting rebellion in some breakaway provinces and Russian troops - despite denials by the government - are still in Ukraine.

The Russian Federal Security Service's Border Service in Crimea reported that three Ukrainian warships had illegally entered Russia's territorial waters, and were carrying out unsafe maneuvers, TASS stated.

The incidents were followed by protests outside the Russian embassy in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, which saw activists placing paper boats on the steps of the building and setting off smoke bombs.

"What is happening now at the (Kerch) bridge threatens to turn into a very unpleasant story", Kiselyov said. "Maintenance of worldwide peace and security" will be the sole item on its agenda, Polyanskiy said.

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