Russia holds Ukrainian navy ships following Black Sea skirmish
November 26, 2018 @ 12:10 UTC
Russia is holding three Ukrainian naval ships it captured under gunfire in the disputed Black Sea region on Sunday, as the west called for Moscow and Kiev to de-escalate the most serious maritime incident between the warring neighbours since the 2014 invasion of Crimea. Ukraine’s parliament will decide on Monday whether to support President Petro Poroshenko’s call for a 60-day period of martial law in response to the naval clash, which saw Russian ships fire upon the three vessels.
Mr Poroshenko is seeking the new authority to more quickly mobilise Ukrainian forces if tensions escalate. The Kremlin claims Russian naval forces were provoked and only captured the Ukrainian ships after they illegally entered its territorial waters near a key maritime chokepoint shared by both countries. The EU, Nato and western governments demanded both sides step back from further provocations, while the UN said it would hold an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the situation, which threatens a renewed flare-up in hostilities.
The Ukrainian navy said that it had provided all notifications required by international maritime rules before the vessels — a tug boat and two gunboats — passed through the strait. Kiev said that evidence, including photographs of Russia’s actions on Sunday, would be added to legal claims of maritime rights violations. Ukrainian officials have called for support from the west. “At the moment, it’s important to have not just a co-ordinated position with our friends, not just statements, but a clear sequence of actions that we will do together,” the Ukrainian foreign minister said late on Sunday night.
Russia holds Ukrainian navy ships following Black Sea skirmish, FT, Nov 26