Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Ukrainan president calls for martial law after Russian naval dispute

Russia blocks passage in Kerch Strait Near Crimea, Deploys Su-25 Jets And Ka-52 Attack Helicopters. Ukrainian navy accuses Russia of seizing three ships after allegedly firing on them near Crimea
| 27 November, 2018, 06:59

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a decree on Monday (Nov 26) to introduce martial law for 60 days, a statement on his website said, though it needs parliamentary approval to come into force.

After a five-hour debate, parliament overwhelmingly approved his proposal, voting to impose martial law for 30 days starting Wednesday morning in 10 of Ukraine's 27 regions - those bordering Russia, Belarus and Moldova's pro-Moscow breakaway republic of Trans-Dniester.

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

Urging the global community to condemn Russia's "arrogant" act, Halley said "outlaw actions" such as the seizure of the vessels are preventing normal relations from developing between Washington and Moscow.

Activists in eastern Ukraine, backed by Russian operatives, took over towns and tore down Ukrainian flags.

In New York, the United Nations Security Council met to discuss the crisis - but failed to agree a Russian-proposed agenda amid sharp disagreements between Moscow and the West.

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

Russian border guards intercepted and seized three Ukrainian navy boats off Crimea, in a major escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Russian media said that only three Ukrainian sailors were slightly hurt.

"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."

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

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said on Monday that the captured seamen should be treated as prisoners of war.

All of this flows from the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in 2014 that led to Russia's illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, which comprises much of the southwestern edge of the Sea of Azov, and the ongoing occupation of southeastern Ukraine by rebel forces supported by Russian troops and special forces.

Ukraine's foreign ministry denied this, however, saying in a statement: "Russia's provocative actions in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov have crossed the line and become aggressive..."

Impeding Ukraine's lawful transit through the Kerch Strait is a violation under worldwide law.

The European Union, Britain, France, Poland, Denmark, and Canada all condemned what they called Russian aggression. The Kerch Strait is the only passage into the Sea of Azov beyond it.

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.

The Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov are designated as shared territorial waters by a 2003 treaty, but Russian Federation has asserted more control over the waterways since it annexed Crimea in 2014 in a move that drew widespread condemnation and global sanctions.

On the other side, Russia's Federal Security Service, known as the FSB, said that the Ukrainian ships violated Russian territorial waters, which were temporarily closed. "They're not thrilled. We're all working on it together", he said.

"The episode in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov, and the feeble Western reaction, suggests that the aggressor will feel empowered".


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