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Kremlin Denies Accusation it Has Designs on Ukrainian Sea Ports

05 December 2018

The Russian coast guard fired upon and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels and 24 seamen in the Black Sea on November 25 as they sailed to the Kerch Strait, the only waterway leading to the Sea of Azov.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko responded by introducing martial law for 30 days in much of Ukraine.

Omelyan noted that Russian shipping is unaffected.

Poroshenko said Monday that reservists will be summoned for training as part of martial law.

"NATO allies are strengthening our collective defence as a direct response to what we have seen Russian Federation has done against Ukraine".

"Ukraine is taking its own steps in response to the threat of a large-scale Russian invasion", the Ukrainian leader said.

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Specifically, Merkel accused Russian Federation, particularly its president, Vladimir Putin, of violating the aforementioned 2003 agreement by building a bridge over the Kerch Strait that limited access to the Sea of Azov.

"The accusations against Russian Federation have no basis whatsoever", he said.

Mariupol and Berdyansk were "partially unblocked", said Volodymyr Omelyan. Several Ukrainian naval personnel were injured in the incident and more than 20 continue to be held captive by Russian Federation.

Vitaliy Sinhur, a dock worker in Berdyansk, said the movement of ships has significantly ebbed.

Ukraine's Western allies have condemned Russia's actions, though there's no sign yet of additional sanctions. They then seized their crews and further agitated tensions between the two European countries.

The U.S. and its allies have condemned what they described as unjustified use of force by Russian Federation and urged it to release the ships and their crews. "There are plans to build at least two or more ships". All three Ukrainian ships were detained in the Black Sea.

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"How this discussion will proceed depends on our future talks", the minister said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the 28 other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation foreign ministers will offer political support to Ukraine, but will not provide naval escorts or any military assistance beyond what's being done now.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko looks likely to be disappointed in his call for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to deploy naval vessels to the Sea of Azov, an offshoot of the Black Sea.

Ukrainian naval ships seized by Russian Federation are seen docked in Kerch, in Russia-annexed Crimea, in this image from video released by Russia's Federal Security Service, Nov. 27, 2018.

Despite worldwide calls for their release, the Ukrainians were sentenced to two months' detention and are now held in Moscow.

Tensions were already high after the 2014 annexation of Crimea and the ongoing armed conflict between government forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

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Russian Federation and Ukraine vessels engaged in a confrontation on November 25 around the Kerch Strait, which links the Azov Sea and the Black Sea. Moscow says Ukrainian navy ships entered Russian waters while trying to cross the strait without prior notice, ignoring orders to stop.

Kremlin Denies Accusation it Has Designs on Ukrainian Sea Ports