High Tension At Sea: Russia Seizes Ukrainian Ships
The Ukrainian military said Sunday that Russian boats had fired on and captured three of its ships near Crimea, escalating a standoff over the Kerch Strait, a key waterway that holds strategic significance for both countries.
The incident marks a major escalation in tensions between the two former Soviet Republics. On Monday, Ukrainian lawmakers will vote on whether to declare martial law, following a proposal by the country's President Petro Poroshenko. An emergency United Nations Security Council meeting has been called for Monday to discuss the issue.
Ukraine and Russia offered conflicting accounts of the incident, each accusing the other side of violating the laws of the sea. A 2003 agreement confirms the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait as domestic waters of Russia and Ukraine.
30act of aggression
In a statement, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said the small gunboats Berdyansk and Nikopol and the tugboat Yana Kapu were attacked,
Six of its sailors were injured in the incident, Ukraine's navy said, adding the tugboat and the Berdyansk were disabled by Russian forces and were being towed away by the Russian navy. The undamaged Nikopol also is under Russian control, Ukraine said.
Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) Border Service in Crimea reported that three Ukrainian warships had illegally entered Russia's territorial waters, and were carrying out dangerous maneuvers, according to Russian state news agency TASS.