Russia Ukraine Naval Stand-off

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A Russian guided-missile frigate arrives at the Bay of Sevastopol to join Russia's Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol

In the morning of 26Nov, Ukraine’s Berdyansk and Nikopol gunboats, and the Yana Kapa tug, tried to sail from the Black Sea port of Odessa to Mariupol in the Sea of Azov. Ukraine says the Russians tried to intercept the ships, ramming the tug. The vessels continued towards the Kerch Strait, but were prevented by the tanker… the boats had been hit and disabled as they tried to leave the area… six crew members had been injured. Russia fired on and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels off the Crimean Peninsula and has placed a tanker under a bridge in the Kerch Strait – the only access to the Sea of Azov, which is shared between the two countries. BBC

The Ukrainian ships had been trying to pass through the Kerch Strait. Russia accused Ukraine of illegally entering its waters. Ukraine says its vessels were operating in accordance with international maritime rules. National Public Radio

Ukraine’s President is demanding that Russia immediately release Ukrainian sailors and (other) ships seized in a standoff in the Black Sea. Al Jazeera

Russia reopened the Kerch Strait near Crimea a day after its coast guard vessels opened fire and seized three Ukrainian navy vessels, raising fears of a new regional crisis. Telegraph

Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian President, has asked parliament to vote on Monday on whether to impose martial law… he said it “in no way means that Ukraine will carry out any offensive actions”. (The Telegraph)

Ukrainian lawmakers voted to introduce martial law in the border areas with Russia — will start on November 28 and will last 30 days. Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia had “no justification” for seizing the Ukrainian ships. US Ambassador Nikki Haley called the incident “yet another reckless Russian escalation” and demanded that the Kremlin release the sailors.  CNN

Dramatic footage of 17 “hostile” Russian fighters buzzing a UK warship off the coast of Crimea has been revealed for the first time, the most intense encounter between Russia and NATO forces in 25 years. 9 News

HMS Duncan was leading a NATO fleet through the Black Sea when the incident occurred. Sky News

Martial Law in Ukraine indicates the severity of the crisis and how close the two states have come to an all-out confrontation. It is being debated if this was a mere Russian move to ramp up pressure on Ukraine and its western allies especially the US or it was a political maneuvering by the Ukrainian President to consolidate his control over the country – or if a war is at the horizon!

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