Russia seized Ukrainian ships and sailors, then blamed banditry. Heres what you need to know

Russia seized Ukrainian ships and sailors, then blamed \banditry\. Here\s what you need to know
Ukraine declares martial law after Russia fires on naval ships near Crimea
Ukraine on Monday imposed martial law for 30 days after a weekend naval confrontation off the disputed Crimean Peninsula in which Russia fired on and seized three Ukrainian vessels amid renewed tensions between the neighbours.

Western leaders and diplomats urged both sides to de-escalate the conflict. The U.S. blamed Russia for what it called "unlawful conduct" over Sunday's incident in the Black Sea.

The Government of Canada is unequivocal in its support for Ukraine and in its condemnation of Russias illegal invasion and annexation of Crimea. Canada will always be a steadfast partner of the people of Ukraine, and we will continue to work with our allies to hold Russia to account for its unacceptable behaviour.

Russia seized Ukrainian ships and sailors, then blamed banditry. Heres what you need to know

The two neighbours have been locked in a tense tug-of-war since Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea, but the incident late Sunday in which Russian coast guard ships fired on Ukrainian navy vessels near the Kerch Strait directly pitted the two militaries, placing them on the verge of an open conflict.

Crimea crisis: Kiev Russian Embassy PROTESTS after 23 Ukrainians DETAINED on Kerch Strait

The Ukrainian navy said six of its seamen were wounded when the Russian coast guard opened fire on three Ukrainian ships near the Kerch Strait and then seized them. Russia said three Ukrainian sailors were slightly injured and given medical assistance.

Video: UN to hold emergency meeting on Ukraine, Russia

After a five-hour debate, parliament overwhelmingly approved Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's proposal to institute martial law for 30 days starting Wednesday in Ukrainian regions bordering Russia, Belarus and Moldova's pro-Moscow breakaway republic of Trans-Dniester.

Accounts of the number of sailors injured as a result varies: Russia says it only injured three and accused the sailors of “banditry,” while Ukraine says six were hurt when the Russian coast guard opened fire and warned the sailors they would “shoot to kill.”

The 10 locations chosen were ones that Poroshenko identified as potentially in the front line of any Russian attack.

Jonathan Allen, the U.K.’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, described the move as Russia having “deliberately chose a provocative title for their meeting” and added they wanted to “play victim” because they recognized their position was weak.

Russia just significantly escalated its conflict with Ukraine. Heres what happened

Poroshenko said it was necessary because of intelligence about "a highly serious threat of a ground operation against Ukraine." He did not elaborate.

Crimea Strife Gives Putin New Chance to Test Wests Resolve

"Martial law doesn't mean declaring a war," he said. "It is introduced with the sole purpose of boosting Ukraine's defence in the light of a growing aggression from Russia."

He also said the military would not comment on whether it would change any rules of engagement, force protection measures or specifics about tactics and techniques for operational security reasons, and that the same message applied to Operation Reassurance.

Black Sea standoff: Kievs provocation aims to score political points ahead of elections – Moscow

The new emergency measures adopted by Ukrainian lawmakers will include a partial mobilization and strengthening the country's air defence. They also include a plethora of vaguely worded steps such as the "strengthening" of anti-terrorism measures and "information security." 

At the emergency Security Council meeting held Monday, Russia tried to bill the incident as a “violation of the borders of the Russian Federation,” a move quickly shut down in a vote by member states including the U.S., U.K., France and Germany.

Video: Russian vessels fire at and seize Ukrainian ships

Poroshenko's critics, meanwhile, reacted to the call for martial law with suspicion, wondering why Sunday's incident merited such a response.

Video: Collision between Russian vessel and Ukrainian tug

Poroshenko's approval ratings have been plunging, and there were concerns that he would postpone a presidential election scheduled for March.

Video: Collision between Russian vessel and Ukrainian tug

Romania reacts to Russia – Ukraine developments in Kerch strait

Just before the parliament met to vote, Poroshenko sought to allay those fears by releasing a statement revising his original martial law proposal from 60 days to just 30 days, in order to "do away with the pretexts for political speculation."

Oksana Syroid, a deputy speaker of parliament, noted that martial law was not introduced in 2014 or 2015 despite large-scale fighting in the east. A state of emergency "would present a wonderful chance to manipulate the presidential elections," she said.

As well, Russia’s actions come within a broader international pattern of interference and aggression against the West, including a continued habit of probing territorial boundaries to test reaction from foreign states.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Poroshenko assured him that martial law would not have a negative impact on the election.

Poroshenko insisted it was necessary because what happened in the Kerch Strait between Crimea and the Russian mainland "was no accident," adding that "this was not the culmination of it yet."

Tensions are escalating between Ukraine and Russia after the Russian Navy fired on three Ukrainian ships it said had entered its waters off Crimea. The clash took place in a busy shipping channel used by both countries.

While a 2003 treaty designates the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov as shared territorial waters, Russia has sought to assert greater control over the passage since the annexation.

US spy plane flies over Black Sea as Russian-Ukraine naval clash sparks fears of war

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin tweeted that the weekend dispute was not an accident and that Russia had engaged in "deliberately planned hostilities," while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov blamed Kyiv for what he described as a "provocation," adding that "Ukraine had undoubtedly hoped to get additional benefits from the situation, expecting the U.S. and Europe to blindly take the provocateurs' side."

Ukraine says it has the right to unimpeded access to the waterway in question as a key shipping route, and wants the international community to levy a fresh round of sanctions against Russia for its aggression.

Klimkin told reporters in Kiev that the government is in talks with the Red Cross to make sure the captive seamen are treated as prisoners of war. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov did not say whether Moscow considers them prisoners of war.

Footage shows Russian ship crash into Ukrainian tug off Crimea

At a UN Security Council meeting, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley urged Russia to "immediately cease its unlawful conduct" in the Black Sea.

The Kerch Strait is the only passage into the Sea of Azov. The strait is spanned by the recently completed Kerch Bridge, connecting Crimea to Russia. Transit under the bridge has been blocked by a tanker ship, and dozens of cargo ships awaiting passage are stuck.

In his first public remarks since the confrontation, U.S. President Donald Trump did not specifically call out Russia's behaviour.

Russia blamed Ukraine for provoking the incident, which sharply escalated tensions that have been growing between the two countries since Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and it has worked steadily to bolster its zone of control around the peninsula.

Everything you need to know about Russia seizing three Ukrainian naval ships near Crimea

"We do not like what's happening, either way, we don't like what's happening and hopefully it will get straightened out," Trump said.

Russia's Federal Security Service, known as the FSB and which oversees the coast guard, said there was "irrefutable evidence that Kiev prepared and orchestrated provocations … in the Black Sea. These materials will soon be made public."

Russia mocks Western appeals to end Azov Sea crisis

But Russia called Ukraine's actions "dangerous." Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia's first deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, told the Security Council the incident was another example of Ukrainian leaders trying to provoke Russia for political purposes.

Dmitry Kiselyov, a commentator on the state-controlled Rossiya channel, told viewers of his Sunday evening news program that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko — encouraged by the U.S. — is looking to pick a fight with Russia in the Black Sea.

The European Union and NATO called for restraint from both sides. NATO said Stoltenberg expressed the U.S.-led military alliance's "full support for Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty, including its full navigational rights in its territorial waters under international law."

The talk show host also said that the U.S. talked Poroshenko into staging a provocation against Russia as a means to disrupt the upcoming meeting between Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump at this week's Group of 20 summit in Argentina.

The announcement of martial law: Turchynov made a statement

In a statement, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said her country "strongly condemns Russia's actions" and called on Moscow to release the captured vessels.

Russia has not given any indication of how long it will block the strait, but a long-term closure would amount to an economic blockade of Ukrainian cities on the Azov coast. Russia's Black Sea Fleet greatly outmatches the Ukrainian navy.

Luik: Full-fledged military conflict could erupt in Ukraine at any moment

"The Government of Canada is unequivocal in its support for Ukraine and in its condemnation of Russia's illegal invasion and annexation of Crimea," the statement said. "Canada will always be a steadfast partner of the people of Ukraine, and we will continue to work with our allies to hold Russia to account for its unacceptable behaviour."

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in an earlier statement that Russia's actions were a violation of the UN Charter and international law, and pledged to "promptly inform our partners about Russia's aggressive actions."

Ukrainian and Russian assets hit by rising Crimea tension

Western leaders and diplomats urged both sides to de-escalate the conflict, and the U.S. blamed Russia for what it called “unlawful conduct” over Sunday’s incident in the Black Sea.

Earlier on Sunday, Russia and Ukraine traded accusations over a separate incident involving the same vessels, prompting Moscow to block passage through the narrow Kerch Strait, which separates the Crimean peninsula from the Russian mainland.

Russia and Ukraine blamed each other in the dispute that further ratcheted up tensions ever since Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014 and threw its weight behind separatists in eastern Ukraine with clandestine support, including troops and weapons.

"Russian coast guard vessels … carried out openly aggressive actions against Ukrainian navy ships," the Ukrainian statement said, with the tugboat suffering damage to its engine, hull, side railing and a lifeboat.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko asked lawmakers in Kyiv to institute martial law, something the country has not done even during the worst of the fighting in the east that killed about 10,000 people.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, after a meeting with his National Security Council, said in a statement he would ask parliament Monday to take up the issue of whether to implement martial law over the incident.

After a five-hour debate, parliament overwhelmingly approved his proposal, voting to impose martial law for 30 days.

Russia's coast guard opened fire on and seized three of Ukraine's vessels Sunday, wounding two crew members, after a tense standoff in the Black Sea near the Crimean Peninsula, the Ukrainian navy said.

Poroshenko said it was necessary because of intelligence about “a highly serious threat of a ground operation against Ukraine.” He did not elaborate.

"Such actions pose a threat to the security of all states in the Black Sea region," the statement said, "and therefore require a clear response from the international community."

It is introduced with the sole purpose of boosting Ukraines defence in the light of a growing aggression from Russia

The European Union and NATO called for restraint from both sides and for Moscow to restore access to the strait, which Ukraine uses to move ships to and from ports on either side of the peninsula.

“Martial law doesn’t mean declaring a war,” he said. “It is introduced with the sole purpose of boosting Ukraine’s defence in the light of a growing aggression from Russia.”

Ukraine’s Defence Ministry already announced earlier in the day that its troops were on full combat alert in the country.

"Their goal is clear," an FSB statement said — "to create a conflict situation in the region." The statement didn't mention ramming a Ukrainian tugboat.

The approved measures included a partial mobilization and strengthening the country’s air defence. It also contained vaguely worded steps such as “strengthening” anti-terrorism measures and “information security” that could curtail certain rights and freedoms.

Poroshenko’s critics reacted to his call for martial law with suspicion, wondering why Sunday’s incident merited such a response. Poroshenko’s approval ratings have been plunging, and there were concerns that he would postpone a presidential election scheduled for March.

Just before the parliament met to vote, Poroshenko sought to allay those fears by releasing a statement revising his original martial law proposal from 60 days to just 30 days, in order to “do away with the pretexts for political speculation.”

This most recent escalation in the Kerch Strait is aggravating the already existing conflict between Ukraine and Russia that began after the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Russia occupied the Ukrainian peninsula after the fall of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in what initially was a covert action that eventually led to official annexation. The Russian leadership justified its actions by pointing to the results of a controversial referendum held on the peninsula at short notice and under the supervision of the Russian military. The annexation of Crimea was not recognized by Ukraine, or by the international community. The dispute over the peninsula has already led to several international court cases, most of them initiated by Kyiv.

Oksana Syroid, a deputy speaker of parliament, noted that martial law was not introduced in 2014 or 2015 despite large-scale fighting in the east. A state of emergency “would present a wonderful chance to manipulate the presidential elections,” she said.

As a result of the incident in the Kerch Strait, Kyiv has proclaimed martial law for the first time in its conflict with Russia. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a decree on Monday that was approved by the countrys Parliament. Kyiv says the move is simply a defensive response, and not a declaration of war on Russia. The presidents decision is seen as controversial, even in Ukraine. Initially, martial law will only be introduced for 30 days, a timeframe in which the rights of Ukrainian citizens, such as freedom of assembly, can be restricted. Speculation is rife as to whether presidential elections can take place in March 2019 as planned. Should martial law be extended, the elections would be called into question.

Estonia condemns Russian attack on Ukrainian vessels in Kerch Strait

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Poroshenko assured him that martial law would not have a negative impact on the election.

Ukraine and Russia accuse each other of violating international maritime law. They refer to the 1982 International Convention on the Law of the Sea, which both states joined in the 1990s. Ukraine insists on freedom of movement in the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov in accordance with this agreement, while the Russian side is trying to draw territorial borders. The two countries also have a bilateral agreement on the free use of the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov, an accord Russia has never called into question.

Ukraine clash: Both leaders stand to gain from Russias military adventure

Poroshenko’s call also outraged far-right groups in Ukraine that have advocated severing diplomatic ties with Russia. Hundreds of protesters from the National Corps party waved flares in the snowy streets of Kyiv outside parliament and accused the president of using martial law to his own ends.

The war in eastern Ukraine has arrived at the Sea of Azov port town. The city center is deserted, the situation uncertain. One in five people here is an inland refugee. Christian F. Trippe reports from Mariupol. (27.07.2016)  

Germany greatly concerned about Crimea crisis

But Poroshenko insisted it was necessary because what happened in the Kerch Strait between Crimea and the Russian mainland “was no accident,” adding that “this was not the culmination of it yet.”

Ukrainian lawmakers have approved a presidential bill to impose martial law after Russia seized three Ukrainian ships and their crews. At the UN, the US called on Russia to “cease its unlawful conduct.” (26.11.2018)  

Russian coast guard ships fired on the Ukrainian navy vessels near the strait, which separates the Black Sea from the Sea of Azov, injuring six Ukrainian seamen and eventually seizing the vessels and their crews. It was the first open military confrontation between the two neighbours since the annexation of Crimea.

Ukraine said its vessels were heading to the Sea of Azov in line with international maritime rules, while Russia charged that they had failed to obtain permission to pass through the narrow strait that is spanned by a 19-kilometre (11.8-mile) bridge that Russia completed this year.

The US ambassador to the United Nations announced the planned meeting on Twitter. Russia said it opened fire after the Ukrainian ships illegally entered its territorial waters on Sunday. (26.11.2018)  

While a 2003 treaty designates the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov as shared territorial waters, Russia has sought to assert greater control over the passage since the annexation.

Ukrainian lawmakers have approved a presidential bill to impose martial law after Russia seized three Ukrainian ships and their crews. At the UN, the US called on Russia to “cease its unlawful conduct.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin tweeted that the dispute was not an accident and that Russia had engaged in “deliberately planned hostilities,” while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov blamed Kyiv for what he described as a “provocation,” adding that “Ukraine had undoubtedly hoped to get additional benefits from the situation, expecting the U.S. and Europe to blindly take the provocateurs’ side.”

The German government has called on both Ukraine and Russia to de-escalate following a military crisis near the Crimean peninsula. Russia has seized three Ukrainian ships. (26.11.2018)  

Kremlin calls Azov incident a dangerous act of provocation

Klimkin told reporters in Kyiv that the government is in talks with the Red Cross to make sure the captive seamen are treated as prisoners of war. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not say whether the Kremlin considers them prisoners of war.

The US ambassador to the United Nations announced the planned meeting on Twitter. Russia said it opened fire after the Ukrainian ships illegally entered its territorial waters on Sunday.

Reuters: Ukrainian nationalists protest outside Russian consulate in east

At a UN Security Council meeting, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley urged Russia to “immediately cease its unlawful conduct” in the Black Sea.

The German government has called on both Ukraine and Russia to de-escalate following a military crisis near the Crimean peninsula. Russia has seized three Ukrainian ships.

Anne Gueguen, the French deputy permanent representative at the U.N., urged the release of the sailors and the vessels.

But Russia called Ukraine’s actions “dangerous.” Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s first deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, told the Security Council the incident was another example of Ukrainian leaders trying to provoke Russia for political purposes.

Ukraine is not a NATO member, meaning any direct Russian attack would not automatically spur a response from NATO members. Nevertheless, a statement by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated the group’s “full support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity.” A pro-Ukrainian position was also reaffirmed by the United States, the U.K., Canada, Poland, France, Germany and the European Union as a whole. However, many of the usual cards to curb this kind of thing have already been played. Russia is already under heavy Western sanctions for a string of condemned actions ranging from its annexation of Crimea to the assassination of dissidents on British soil (some of the sanctioned companies include contractors that built the Crimean Bridge). Ukraine has also been receiving significant military and economic aid from Western allies. Last year, both the United States and Canada approved direct transfers of lethal weaponry to the Ukrainian military — with U.S. military aid for Ukraine topping $200 million in 2018 alone. Sunday’s incident has thus yielded the familiar spectre of an international community largely united in condemning Russia, but this has been countered by the also familiar spectre of a Russia that doesn’t care. On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov seemed unconcerned that more sanctions would be forthcoming from the incident, saying “this has not been a matter of concern for us for long already.”

The European Union and NATO called for restraint from both sides. NATO said Stoltenberg expressed the U.S.-led military alliance’s “full support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, including its full navigational rights in its territorial waters under international law.”

Until recently, Ukraine never had any problems navigating the Kerch Strait, its only link with the Sea of Azov, and is thus the chokepoint for a significant portion of Ukraine’s marine trade. Under a 2003 treaty, the strait is considered shared territorial waters between Russia and Ukraine. That all changed in May, when Russia opened the “Crimean Bridge,” a $4-billion, 18-kilometre span connecting the Russian mainland with Crimea. The action solidified Russia’s claim to a peninsula still seen by many countries as a part of Ukraine illegally occupied by the Russian Federation. The bridge’s opening also marked a notable step-up in Russia’s military presence in the Sea of Azov, purportedly to protect the bridge from hostile Ukrainian elements. The attack on the trio of Ukrainian vessels is only the latest in a campaign that has seen Russia search hundreds of cargo vessels destined for ports along Ukraine’s eastern coast. Following Sunday’s incident, the strait is now under heavy guard from Russian forces and security services. A tanker now blocks the only passageway under the Crimean Bridge and the skies over the Kerch Strait are coursing with patrolling Su-25 jet fighters. An analysis by the Atlantic Council, a U.S. think tank, characterized Russian actions as “creeping annexation” and an attempt to “cut off Ukraine’s eastern ports.”

EU president Donald Tusk condemns Russian use of force in Ukraine ship clash

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also spoke by telephone with Poroshenko to express her concerns and emphasize the need for de-escalation and dialogue, her office said.

In 2014, after mass protests and violent street clashes forced pro-Russian Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych from office, Russia responded by annexing the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, ostensibly to protect the area’s Russian speakers. For the last four and half years, Ukraine has also been at war with pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass, a region along the country’s eastern border. With more than 10,000 killed to date, it’s the bloodiest European war since the flurry of conflicts sparked by the early 1990s breakup of Yugoslavia. Russia has been actively supporting and supplying the Donbass separatists, even sending in elite Russian soldiers disguised as impromptu local militias. What makes Sunday’s incident different is that it constitutes a direct confrontation between Ukrainian and Russian forces. Unlike another Russian neighbour, Georgia, Ukraine has thus far been spared open and direct conflict with the Russian Federation. This also marks a new theatre for the conflict: Plenty of Russian bullets and artillery shells have been fired into Ukraine from the Donbass, but only now are shots being fired at sea.

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman, James Slack, said the incident was “further evidence of Russia’s destabilizing behaviour in the region and its ongoing violation of Ukrainian territorial integrity.”

A statement from Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs characterized the incident as an expansion of Russian aggression to “the sea.” “Kremlin’s criminal regime has today once again demonstrated that it won’t stop its aggressive policy and is ready for any acts of aggression against the Ukrainian state,” it read. In response, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko initially sought approval to impose 60 days of martial law throughout the country. Pitched as a way to better mobilize Ukraine against Russian aggression, the measure was nevertheless fiercely criticized by some opposition lawmakers as well as three former Ukrainian presidents. The chief fear was that martial law will endanger the country’s March 2019 presidential elections. Poroshenko later dropped his proposal to 30 days — which Parliament approved — and has assured foreign leaders that it would have no effect on the country’s “democratic institutions.”

President Donald Trump says the U.S. doesn’t approve of escalating violence “either way” between Russia and Ukraine.

Speaking publicly for the first time after a weekend naval confrontation off the disputed Crimean Peninsula raised tensions anew in the volatile region, Trump is not specifically calling out Russia’s behaviour.

Russian Foreign Ministry Declares Protest Over Kerch Strait Incident

Says Trump, “We do not like what’s happening, either way, we don’t like what’s happening and hopefully it will get straightened out.”

Canada condemns Russian aggression towards #Ukraine in the #KerchStrait. We call on #Russia to immediately de-escalate, release the captured vessels, and allow for freedom of passage. Canada is unwavering in its support for Ukraines sovereignty.

His comments come hours after outgoing U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley urged Russia to “immediately cease its unlawful conduct” in the Black Sea.

Trump is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of this week’s G-20 summit in Argentina.

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Ukrainian President Poroshenko has told lawmakers that the martial law introduced in the country will only affect regions bordering Russia, Belarus and Moldova’s breakaway republic of Trans-Dniester.

The whole incident was staged “upon a blessing, or at least, according to a direct order from top leadership [of Ukraine],” the minister maintained. The government in Kiev “were calculating benefits” from the provocative act, hoping that the US and Europe “will unconditionally side with the provocateur.”

Ahead of the parliamentary vote that overwhelmingly supported his motion for a 30-day period of martial law, Poroshenko said martial law will only affect ten of Ukraine’s 27 regions. The regions picked are the ones that he identified as potentially in the front-line of any Russian strike.

Moscow is urging Ukraine’s Western backers “to calm down those who try to score political points” ahead of the March 2019 presidential elections, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Russian media on Monday. He suggested that the tense maritime encounter, off the Crimean coast, was premeditated by Kiev.

Tensions between the two countries escalated Sunday when Russia fired on and seized three Ukrainian vessels and their crews.

The standoff took place as several of Ukraine’s vessels were sailing between two Ukrainian ports, from Odessa in the Black Sea to Mariupol in the Azov Sea. Kiev says it notified Moscow in advance that its navy ships would be sailing through the Kerch Strait, the only waterway that connects these two ports.

Martial law will include a partial mobilization and strengthening of the country’s air defence. The measures before parliament also included vaguely worded steps such as “strengthening” anti-terrorism measures and “information security.”

The standoff took place as several of Ukraine’s vessels were sailing between two Ukrainian ports, from Odessa in the Black Sea to Mariupol in the Azov Sea. Kiev says it notified Moscow in advance that its navy ships would be sailing through the Kerch Strait, the only waterway that connects these two ports.

Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United Nations is warning that rising tensions with Russia “constitute a clear threat to international peace and security.”

Ukraine is holding presidential elections in March next year, and mounting tensions in the Kerch Strait would allow President Petro Poroshenko to cement power and win popular support. “Obviously, it is easier for Poroshenko to launch his campaign under the circumstances,” Karasin explained.

Volodymyr Yelchenko told a United Nations Security Council meeting Monday that Russia’s claim that Ukrainian ships violated Russia’s borders “is an outright lie.”

The goal was also to “shake Ukraine up by introducing martial law, fan anti-Russia sentiments in the West and tighten the sanctions [imposed on Moscow],” according to the diplomat. The timing of the incident was also notable in terms of upcoming events, Karasin added.

Russia traded barbs Monday with representatives from the United States and Ukraine at a Security Council meeting held after Russian ships fired on Ukrainian vessels Sunday near Crimea.

Later in the day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also called the incident “a clear provocation.” He maintained Ukraine had breached an array of key international treaties which “require all states to respect sovereignty of others.”

Russia accused Ukraine of provoking the attack by violating Russia’s borders and demanded their sovereignty be respected.

The remarks were echoed by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov who also said the timing of the mid-sea clash was notable in terms of upcoming events. “This decision feels like an electoral intrigue, given the situation in Ukraine,” he opined.

Questioned by reporters after the UNSC session, Yelchenko said he hopes more sanctions would be imposed on the Russian leadership. Sanctions, he said, “do bite.”

Moscow denies that it received any warning, forcing the Russian military to use weapons to stop the vessels. The three Ukrainian ships were eventually seized and towed to Kerch port, according to the Russian Security Service (FSB).

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday that President Poroshenko told him over the phone that “the introduction of martial law will not hinder the working of the democratic institutions” in Ukraine.

Mounting tensions in the Kerch Strait would allow President Petro Poroshenko to cement power and win popular support in March’s presidential elections, Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said earlier on Monday.

After chairing an emergency meeting of NATO and Ukraine ambassadors, Stoltenberg said that “Russia has to understand that its actions have consequences.”

According to technical rules, vessels passing through the narrow, complex Strait should contact Kerch port, report her route and receive permission to sail through the Strait.

Nov. 26, 5:50 pm Kremlin propaganda stokes anti-Ukrainian hysteria over Kerch incident

He did not say what those consequences might be, but recalled that NATO has launched its biggest military buildup in Eastern Europe since the Cold War in recent years in response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

The maritime encounter also came ahead of the G20 summit in Argentina this week, where Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to meet with his US counterpart Donald Trump.

Ukrainian nationalists vandalise Russian consulate in Kharkiv

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Russia’s actions continue to make normal relations between Washington and Moscow “impossible.”

Lavrov advised Kiev “to behave in a saner way” as Western powers “are increasingly embarrassed by the Ukrainian leadership.”

Speaking during an emergency session of the UN Security Council, Haley said her comments followed a conversation with President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo earlier in the day and that she was reflecting U.S. concerns at the “highest level.”

The presidential aide warned that it would be “wrong and dangerous to achieve any electoral objectives by waving the banner of war.”

Ahead of the start of an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting on the crisis, Ukrainian Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko said tougher sanctions are “the only way” to deal with the situation, “because Russia doesn’t understand any other language, unfortunately.”

Yelchenko said his government has indications that Russia is preparing a ground assault on two Ukrainian ports.

“The country should be ready, and the military should be ready,” Yelchenko told reporters in New York.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the conflict in the Kerch Strait with Ukrainian President Poroshenko, according to her office. “The chancellor expressed her concern about the situation and cited the necessity for de-escalation and dialogue, which she’ll work toward,” the Chancellery said in an email. The statement said the two leaders would remain in close contact.

President Petro Poroshenko cuts back his initial plan of declaring martial law for 60 days after the Radical Party objects to the duration. In a pre-recorded television address, Poroshenko says the period will be for 30 days, and presidential elections, planned for March 31, will happen on time.

Martial law will come into effect at 9 a.m. on Nov. 28, if parliament approves the decree as expected in a vote expected later on Monday, Poroshenko said.

He added that Ukrainian intelligence reports have warned there is a “serious” threat of a land operation against Ukraine from Russia. The declaration of martial law doesn’t equate a declaration of war, he said.

Parliament adjourns before debating draft legislation on martial law proposed by President Petro Poroshenko after the populist Ukrainian Radical Party led by Oleh Lyasko surrounds the speaker podium and calls for a break. The party said it wants to discuss the bill with the president, and ask him why martial law should be declared for 60 days.

Some civil rights may be curtailed, according to the draft published on parliament’s website. They include the right for private correspondence, free movement, the freedom of speech and thought, the right for demonstration, the right for a person to freely use his or her property and assets, the right to do business, the right to be elected, the right to strike at work and the right to an education.

U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt “utterly” condemned Russia’s use of force on Ukranian vessels entering the Sea of Azov and says it shows contempt for international norms.

President Petro Poroshenko has submitted his decree on martial law, which parliament is set to debate starting at 4 p.m. in Kiev. The text reveals that the measure would cover the whole country, not just regions in the immediate area of the long-standing conflict with Russian-backed fighters. It would begin Monday and remain until Jan. 25.

Russian special forces storm three Ukrainian Navy ships sailing through disputed waters off Crimea

The decree also calls for a partial military mobilization, air defense of major government sites, industrial areas and troops, and heightened border security. One clause is marked secret and its details won’t be released to the public.

Footage shows Russian ship crashing into Ukranian tug off the Crimean Peninsula.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin denounced Russia’s actions in the sea of Azov as violations of international law and said his country will seek a peaceful way to resolve the escalation in tension. That may include a potential “joint presence” that includes Ukraine’s Western allies in the Black Sea region, he said.

UN ambassador Nikki Haley condemns Russias outrageous seizure of Ukraine ships

“We don’t rule out further aggression” from Russia, Klimkin said in Kiev, adding Ukraine has the right of self defense. “The captured marines are prisoners of war.”

Russia was reacting to “an incursion into the territorial waters of the Russian Federation by foreign warships,” which refused to respond to requests from border guards, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call. The Russian ships acted strictly in accordance with domestic law, he said.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea — and the waters around the peninsula that include the Kerch Strait — hasn’t been recognized on the international stage.

“We expect Russia to restore freedom of passage at the Kerch Strait and urge all to act with utmost restraint to de-escalate the situation immediately,” the EU said in a statement.

Poland’s Foreign Ministry joined in the international criticism, saying the escalation in tension was “a result of the Russian Federation’s consistent breaches of the basic principles of international law, including the violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

“We strongly condemn Russia’s aggressive actions and call on its authorities to respect international law. We urge both sides to show restraint in the current situation, which may pose a threat to of European security,” the Foreign Ministry said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government cited “grave questions” with respect to Russia’s use of force in the Kerch Strait, according to chief spokesman Steffen Seibert. He said there was “no justification” for Russia’s action “based on the facts known to us.”

The German government is in contact with Moscow and Kiev, calling on free access to the Sea of Azov. Russia’s construction of the bridge over the Kerch Strait, just as the annexation of Crimea, is a violation of international law, Seibert said.

Political directors from Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France, who had planned to meet in Berlin Monday to discuss the conflict in eastern Ukraine, will also discuss the issue, Germany’s Foreign Ministry said.Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said Russia’s restricting access to the Sea of Azov was “unacceptable.”

Lithuania, a member of NATO and the EU, said it “strongly condemns” Russia’s actions against Ukraine, according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry in Vilnius. It called on the international community to join it in “using all means in countering them, and to demand that Russia should immediately end them.” “These provocative actions by the Russian Federation violate Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, the fundamental principles of international law, and cannot be qualified otherwise than as an act of open military aggression against Ukraine.”

Ukrainian central bank Governor Yakiv Smoliy is meeting the heads of the country’s 40 largest lenders to discuss operating the banking system if martial law is imposed, according to a statement on the regulator’s website.

Smoliy sees no grounds to tighten foreign-exchange restrictions. The central bank is continuing “to watch the FX market closely and is ready to intervene” to aid the hryvnia if needed, he said. He added that reserves are sufficient at $17.8 billion.

President Sauli Niinisto, whose country is a member of the European Union, called on Russia to return the three ships it seized from Ukraine, as well as their crews. Russia must also allow free passage to vessels through the strait to reduce tension in the area, he said in a statement.

“Instability in the area has continued for a long time and the risk of escalation is high,” Niinisto said in the statement. “That’s why it’s of primary importance that the international community react to the incident without delay.”

Niinisto also called for the United Nations Security Council to hold an emergency session and for an independent, international review of events. The Security Council will hold an extraordinary meeting today at 11:00 a.m. in New York, according to Nikki Haley, the U.S.’s ambassador to the UN.

The possible imposition of martial law by Ukraine’s government wouldn’t be an “obstacle” for the country to receive further financial aid under the International Monetary Fund, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The IMF will release an official statement on Ukraine later on Monday. The Washington-based lender will need to study the proposed law on martial law if it’s passed, according to its office in Kiev.

German Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Roth called on Russia to ensure Ukraine’s access to ports in the Sea of Azov “in accordance with international law.” The situation is “very dangerous” and both sides should avoid pushing an escalation “that could ultimately lead to terrible consequences,” he told broadcaster Deutschlandfunk.

On Sunday, the EU said it expected Russia to restore freedom of passage at the Kerch Strait and to de-escalate the situation immediately. NATO said separately that it’s closely monitoring developments.

The Kerch Strait connects the Sea of Azov to the Black Sea and is a major export channel for Black Sea grain, oil, minerals and timber. Chicago wheat futures climbed 1 per cent.

The ruble slid for a second day, falling 0.4 percent to the weakest in almost two weeks. The yields on Russian bonds rose, and the cost of insuring the country’s debt jumped to the highest in more than two months.

Ukraine’s foreign-currency borrowing costs jumped, with the yield on dollar bonds due in 2025 climbing above 10 percent for the first time since March 2016.

EU and NATO member Estonia denounced what it called a “full-blown sea blockade” against Ukraine. It called for additional sanctions on Russia and for international observers to be sent to the region. It said Russia was escalating the tensions because of Ukraine’s 2019 presidential elections.

“A full-scale military conflict can begin at any moment,” Estonian Defense Minister Juri Luik says in an emailed statement.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland condemned Russia for what called “aggression” against Ukraine and vowed to remain “unwavering in its support” for Ukraine’s sovereignty.

In a research note, Eurasia Group said that a main difference from earlier clashes between Russian and Ukrainian military forces in the latter’s separatist-held east was that Moscow wasn’t denying its role in the fighting.

The incident follows months of complaints from Ukraine that Russia has harassed its vessels as it adds military forces to protect the new bridge over the Kerch straight, which it built to connect the Russian mainland to Crimea.

“Western governments will side with Ukraine against Russia over the incident itself, making new sanctions against Russia likely,” Alex Brideau, a Eurasia Group director for Ukraine, Russia, and central Asia wrote in a note. “The U.S. and EU had previously warned Russia over the increased naval activity, and EU foreign policy head Federica Mogherini said last week that a response was already in the works.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a briefing Monday that China hopes all parties remain constrained and avoid escalation through talks.

Opposition lawmakers accused Poroshenko of seeking to impose martial law in a bid to delay next year’s presidential ballot, after Russia attacked Ukrainian vessels in the Sea of Azov.

“An introduction of martial law all over Ukraine is an excellent chance to manipulate presidential elections and in case of need to apply some dictatorship,” Oksana Syroyid, a legislator from Samopomich parliament group and deputy assembly speaker, said on Facebook.

The possible cancellation of the presidential ballot is a “threat” for the country resembling a “coup d’etat” and will cause “a popular uprising in the streets,” the leader of Radical Party, Oleh Lyashko, said on Facebook.

Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council proposed to introduce martial law for 60 days. The measure “doesn’t automatically mean” cancellation of the presidential elections scheduled for the end of March, Iryna Herashchenko, first deputy speaker of parliament and a member of Poroshenko’s bloc, said on Facebook.

Kurt Volker, U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, challenged the Russian account of events, appearing to blame Moscow for the conflict in one of the first official reactions from Washington.

“Russia rams Ukrainian vessel peacefully traveling toward a Ukrainian port. Russia seizes ships and crew and then accuses Ukraine of provocation???,” he wrote on Twitter.