After dispute with Russia, Ukraine leader seeks martial law

After dispute with Russia, Ukraine leader seeks martial law

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko held a meeting with his top military and security chiefs amid talk of imposing martial law.

Poroshenko said 10 of Ukraine's 27 regions - the ones most likely to bear the brunt of a potential Russian strike - would be subject to martial law.

The State Department said Pompeo spoke by phone with Poroshenko and reiterated strong USA support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russian "aggression".

Ukraine said it was a Russian "act of aggression".

Russian forces stopped two Ukrainian gunboats and a tug on their way into the Sea of Azov on Sunday morning, ramming the tug.

The FSB's Border Service in Crimea reported that three Ukrainian warships had illegally entered Russia's territorial waters, and were carrying out unsafe maneuvers, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

"Russian coastguard vessels ... carried out openly aggressive actions against Ukrainian navy ships", Ukrainian authorities said in a statement, revealing that the tugboat's engine, hull, railings, and lifeboat were damaged in the incident.

Ukraine said six of its soldiers were injured, two seriously, but Russia's FSB reported only three had suffered non-life threatening injuries and were given medical treatment.

"Weapons were used with the aim of forcibly stopping the Ukrainian warships", the FSB said in a statement circulated to Russian state media. "Here on several pages is a detailed description of all the forces of the enemy located at a distance of literally several dozens of kilometers from our border", he said. But tensions around the sea have escalated since Russian Federation annexed Ukraine's nearby Crimea in 2014.

The image released by the Ukrainian Navy
The image released by the Ukrainian Navy

"I was well aware that the actions of the Ukrainian navy in the Kerch Strait are provocative", he says, adding that he was fulfilling orders as a subordinate officer to bring the ships from the port of Odessa to the port of Mariupol.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called on Moscow to immediately release Ukrainian sailors captured during the weekend skirmish and to ensure freedom of navigation through the Kerch Strait.

"This [sanctions] has long ceased to concern us", he said, accusing some in the West of being "obsessed only with the desire to look for more and more new reasons for putting pressure on Russia".

The Ukrainian head of state said Ukraine's Western partners have started paying much more attention to the situation in the east of Ukraine in general and in the Sea of Azov in particular.

Part 1, Article 36 of the UN Convention states that in the straits referred to in Article 37 of the UN Convention, all ships and aircraft shall enjoy the right of transit passage which shall not be obstructed. In the past, successful military action beyond Russia's borders has buoyed his popularity.

Kiev insists the two small Ukrainian armoured artillery vessels and a tug boat, heading to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, were observing worldwide maritime rules.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement condemning "this aggressive Russian action" and calling on "both parties to exercise restraint and abide by their global obligations and commitments". Crimea, on the western shore, is now controlled by Moscow, the eastern shore is Russian territory, and the northern shore is controlled by Ukraine.

The German foreign minister, Heiko Mass, also said "we will mediate so that this conflict does not turn into a serious crisis".




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